2017-10-315018550002007-03-05falseFY0001372920--05-31trueP3YP3YP1Y9MP8Y8M1DOn July 25, 2017, the Company declared a special cash dividend in the amount of US$0.45 per American Depositary Shares (the “ADS”). The aggregate amount of cash dividend paid was US$71,153, which was funded by retained earnings. The dividend was fully paid on October 6, 2017 to shareholders of record at the close of business on September 1, 2017.Prepaid rents represent the prepayment of rent related to leases less than 12 months.Staff advances were provided to staff for travelling and business related use and are expensed as incurred.Others primarily included prepaid maintenance fees, other receivables and other miscellaneous prepayments.Amounts reimbursable to employees include travelling and the business related expenses.Others primarily include transportation expenses, utility fees, property management fees and other miscellaneous expenses payable.Since April 2010, the Group began renting a large portion of a building owned by Metropolis for office space. In March 2012, Metropolis was acquired by a company wholly-owned by Mr. Yu, the Group’s executive chairman. As a result, Metropolis became a related party of the Group. As of May 31, 2020, the current and non-current amounts due from Metropolis were US$1,951 and US$ 1,550, respectively, which represented prepaid rent related to a short-term lease and deposit for the building. The amount of the rental payments was determined based on the prevailing market rates and was duly approved by the Group’s board of directors.In April 2016, the Group sold 51% of the equity interest of its fully-owned subsidiary Dianshi Jingwei and Dianshi Jingwei became an equity method investee of the Group. As of May 31, 2020, amounts due from Dianshi Jingwei included five outstanding loans provided by the Group with annual interest rate of 10%. The loans were initially granted in 2018 but were extended several times and recorded as non-current assets as of May 31, 2020. During the year ended of May 31, 2020, no interests were received by the Group. The extended loans were personally guaranteed by Mr. Yu and Mr. Yunhai Jia (“Mr. Jia”), the chief executive officer of Dianshi Jingwei.As of May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the balance in “others” included the receivables from and payables to long-term investees.As of May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, the balance in “others” included the revenue and cost from long-term investees.In July 2018, Education Industry Fund was established with the total committed capital of US$224,000. There are two general partners in the fund, which include an entity invested by Mr. Yu and an unrelated third party. The Group participates in Education Industry Fund as a limited partner and invested US$75,000 in Education Industry Fund as of May 31, 2020. The Group accounts for the investment under the equity method in accordance with ASC 323 because the Group is a limited partner and owns 33% interest in Education Industry Fund.In June 2019, VM EDU Fund I, LP, a market-driven investment entity, was established with total committed capital of US$100,000. The Group participates in VM EDU Fund I, LP as a limited partner and invested US$56,149 in VM EDU Fund I, LP. The Group accounts for the investment under the equity method in accordance with ASC 323 because the Group is a limited partner and does not have control over VM EDU Fund I, LP.The Group holds from 6.86% to 50% equity interests in other 15 third-party companies through investments in their common shares or in-substance common shares. The majority of the long-term investments are engaged in the business of providing educational services. The Group accounts for these investments under the equity method because the Group has the ability to exercise significant influence but does not have control over the investees, even though the Group holds less than 20% equity interests in some of the investees.In April 2015, the Group invested 9.75% equity interests in Golden Finance, a company engaged in training programs business associated with finance and business management. In November 2015, the Group further subscribed 9.75% equity interests. During the year ended May 31, 2019, the Group disposed of 7.2% equity interests in Golden Finance with total consideration of US$33,156, and the remaining shares were diluted to 12.3%. Gain of US$23,096 was recognized as realized gain from long-term investments in the consolidated statements of operations for the year ended May 31, 2019. The Group accounts for the investment as available-for-sale investments since the investee’s preferred shares held are redeemable and determined to be debt securities and measured at fair value.In May 2015, the Group invested in Uhozz, a company providing oversea rental agency services, for 10% equity interests with redemption and liquidation preferences. In March 2018, the Group further subscribed 15.18% series B preferred shares. The Group accounted for the investment as available-for-sale investments since the investee’s preferred shares held are redeemable and determined to be debt securities and measured them at fair value.In March 2012, the Group acquired a convertible promissory note from Alo7.com for US$1,000, which entitled the Group to automatically convert the note into equity security upon certain conditions were met. In July 2012, the Group converted the US$1,000 promissory note into convertible redeemable preferred shares for a 3.4% equity interests in Alo7.com on an as-converted basis. In 2014, the Group further invested redeemable preferred shares into Alo7.com. As of May 31, 2020, the Company held a 14.3% equity interests in Alo7.com.In September 2015, the Group invested in Lele, a company providing online learning and tutoring services for students from kindergarten through 12th grade, to acquire 48,796,296 convertible redeemable preferred shares for an 8.5% equity interests. In December 2018, the Group further in invested series C preferred shares in Lele. As of May 31, 2020, the Group held a 7.8% equity interests in Lele. The investment was classified as available-for-sale investment as the Group determined the preferred shares were debt securities due to substantive redemption right and measured the investment at fair value.Other available-for-sale investments represent several insignificant individual investments classified as available-for-sale investments as of May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020. Realized gain of US$2,821, US$3,283 and US$407 were recorded in realized gain from long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively. The Group recognized impairment losses from long-term investments amounting to US$980, US$5,919 and US$31,750 for the years ended May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively, as the Group believes the carrying value of these investments were no longer recoverable.Refundable fees received from students represent (1) the miscellaneous expenses other than tuition fees received from students which will be paid out on their behalf; and (2) tuition fees refundable to students for classes withdrawn.Refundable deposits represent student deposits for dormitory or other fees that will be refunded upon graduation and student security deposits refunded upon completion of the study tour.Royalty fees payable relate to payments to content providers for on-line learning programs and those to counterparties for copyrights and resource sharing.The refund liability is recognized for variable amount of the considerations received from clients and recorded as refund liability in accordance with Topic 606 as described in Note 2.In January 2016, the Group invested US$12,310 in Sunlands, a company engaged in online education specific to vocational qualification training, for subscribing the convertible bonds. In July 2016, the Group converted all of the convertible bonds into redeemable preferred shares of Sunlands for a 4.9% equity interests. Additionally, the Group also invested an additional US$12,205 redeemable preferred shares for another 4.9% equity interests in Sunlands during July 2016. Subsequent to the additional investment, the Group holds 9.8% equity interest in Sunlands. On March 23, 2018, Sunlands was listed in the New York Stock Exchange Market. All of the preferred shares were converted to 529,426 Class A ordinary shares immediately upon the completion of the listing. Subsequent to the listing, the Group invested an additional US$10,000 and obtained 34,783 Class A ordinary shares in April 2018 and held 8% aggregate equity interests in Sunlands. Unrealized gains of US$101,779 was reported in other comprehensive income for the year ended May 31, 2018. Upon the adoption of ASU 2016-01, the investment was reclassified from available-for-sale investment to equity security with readily determinable fair value on June 1, 2018, and losses of US$ 96,621 and US$ 16,362 were recorded in loss from fair value change of long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively, on the Group’s consolidated statements of operations.In April 2015, the Group acquired 18% equity interests in Beijing ROBOROBO Technology Co., Ltd. (“ROBOROBO”) for a cash consideration of US$4,356. Roborobo is a company applying various robots build training course for kids with different ages. In February 2017, the Group disposed all of the ownership in ROBOROBO, in exchange for 1.87% common shares issued by Shengtong, which is a listed A-share company in China. Realized gain of US$7,086 was recognized during the year ended May 31, 2017. The equity interests acquired in Shengtong were classified as equity security with readily determinable fair value. Unrealized loss of US$1,450 was reported in other comprehensive income for the year ended May 31, 2018. Upon the adoption of ASU 2016-01, the investment was reclassified from available-for-sale investment to equity security with readily determinable fair value on June 1, 2019, losses of US$1,605 and US$1,079 were recorded in loss from fair value change of long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively.In March 2014, the Group invested US$13,500 in Tarena, a NASDAQ listed company that provides IT professional education services in China, for 3% equity interests. In July 2017, the Group sold 1% equity interest in Tarena to third parties and the realized gain of US$4,545 was recognized in investment income for the year ended May 31, 2018. Unrealized loss of US$7,040 was reported in other comprehensive income for the year ended May 31, 2018. Upon the adoption of ASU 2016-01, the investment was reclassified from available-for-sale investment to equity security with readily determinable fair value on June 1, 2019, losses of US$6,410 and US$1,010 were recorded in loss from fair value change of long-term investments for the years ended May 31, 2019 and 2020, respectively.In December 2018, the Group invested 5% equity interests in Tibet Tianli, a company engaged in the developing educational products. In April 2020, the Group further subscribed 5% equity interests. The Group accounted for the investment as equity securities without readily determinable fair values as Tibet Tianli is a private company without readily determinable fair value. As of May 31, 2020, the Group holds 9.75% of the total equity interests in Tibet Tianli after the dilution. For the years ended May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, no impairment loss was recorded from this investment.In April 2017, the Group acquired 10% equity interest in EEO, a company engaged in the business of developing on-line classroom product which were accounted for using the cost method because it is not in-substance common share for the years ended May 31, 2018. After the adoption of ASU 2016-01, the Group accounted for the equity investments using the measurement alternative when the equity method is not applicable and there is no readily determinable fair value for the investments. For the years ended May 31, 2018 2019 and 2020, no impairment loss was recorded in regard to the investment.The Group holds several insignificant investments in third-party private companies and has no ability to exercise significant influence over the investees, which were accounted for using the cost method prior to the adoption of ASU 2016-01. After the adoption of ASU 2016-01, the Group accounted for these equity investments using the measurement alternative when cost method is not applicable and there is no readily determinable fair value for the investments. 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Table of Contents
 
 
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
Washington, D.C. 20549
 
 
FORM
20-F
 
 
(Mark One)
REGISTRATION STATEMENT PURSUANT TO SECTION 12(B) OR 12(G) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
 
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended May 31, 2020.
OR
 
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
OR
 
SHELL COMPANY REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(D) OF THE SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
Date of event requiring this shell company report
    
    
    
    
For the transition period from
    
    
    
    
to
    
    
    
    
Commission file number:
001-32993
 
 
NEW ORIENTAL EDUCATION & TECHNOLOGY GROUP INC.
(Exact name of Registrant as specified in its charter)
 
 
N/A
(Translation of Registrant’s name into English)
Cayman Islands
(Jurisdiction of incorporation or organization)
No. 6 Hai Dian Zhong Street
Haidian District, Beijing 100080
People’s Republic of China
(Address of principal executive offices)
Zhihui Yang, Chief Financial Officer
Tel: +(86 10) 6090-8000
E-mail:
yangzhihui@xdf.cn
Fax: +(86 10) 6260-5511
No. 6 Hai Dian Zhong Street
Haidian District, Beijing 100080
People’s Republic of China
(Name, Telephone,
E-mail
and/or Facsimile number and Address of Company Contact Person)
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
 
Title of Each Class
 
Trading
Symbol
 
Name of Exchange on Which Registered
American depositary shares, each representing one common share
*
 
EDU
 
New York Stock Exchange
Common shares, par value US$0.01 per share
**
   
New York Stock Exchange
*
Effective on August 18, 2011, the ratio of ADSs to our common shares was changed from one ADS representing four common shares to one ADS representing one common share.
**
Not for trading, but only in connection with the listing on New York Stock Exchange of the American depositary shares.
Securities registered or to be registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act:
None
(Title of Class)
Securities for which there is a reporting obligation pursuant to Section 15(d) of the Act:
None
(Title of Class)
 
 
Indicate the number of outstanding shares of each of the Issuer’s classes of capital or common stock as of the close of the period covered by the annual report.
158,540,080
 
common shares, par value US$0.01 per share, as of May 31, 20
20
.
Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.    Yes
 
☒    No  ☐
If this report is an annual or transition report, indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15 (d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934.    Yes  ☐    No  ☒
Note — Checking the box above will not relieve any registrant required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 from their obligations under those Sections.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant: (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.    Yes
 
☒    No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically every Interactive Data File required to be submitted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation
S-T
(§232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit such files).    Yes  ☒    No  ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a
non-accelerated
filer, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of “large accelerated filer,” “accelerated filer,” and “emerging growth company” in Rule
12b-2
of the Exchange Act. (Check one):
 
Large accelerated filer  ☒   Accelerated filer
  
  
Non-accelerated filer  ☐
  Emerging growth company  
If an emerging growth company that prepares its financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards† provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act.  ☐
† The term “new or revised financial accounting standard” refers to any update issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board to its Accounting Standards Codification after April 5, 2012.
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed a report on
and
attestation to its management’s assessment of the effectiveness of its internal control over financial reporting under Section 404(b) of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (15 U.S.C. 7262(b)) by the registered public accounting firm that prepared or issued its audit report.  ☒
Indicate by check mark which basis of accounting the registrant has used to prepare the financial statements included in this filing:
 
U.S. GAAP  ☒  
International Financial Reporting Standards as issued
by the International Accounting Standards Board  ☐
   Other  ☐
If “Other” has been checked in response to the previous question, indicate by check mark which financial statement item the registrant has elected to follow.    Item 17 ☐    Item 18 ☐
If this is an annual report, indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule
12b-2
of the Exchange Act).    Yes   ☐    No  
(APPLICABLE ONLY TO ISSUERS INVOLVED IN BANKRUPTCY PROCEEDINGS DURING THE PAST FIVE YEARS)
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has filed all documents and reports required to be filed by Sections 12, 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 subsequent to the distribution of securities under a plan confirmed by a court.    Yes  ☐    No  ☐
 
 
 

Table of Contents
TABLE OF CONTENTS
 
  
 
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i

Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION
Unless otherwise indicated and except where the context otherwise requires, references in this annual report on Form
20-F
to:
 
   
“we,” “us,” “our company” or “our” refers to New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc., its predecessor entities and subsidiaries and, in the context of describing our operations and consolidated financial data, also includes New Oriental China (as defined below);
 
   
“China” or “PRC” refers to People’s Republic of China, and for the purpose of this annual report, excludes Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau;
 
   
“New Oriental China” refers to New Oriental Education & Technology Group Co., Ltd., formerly known as Beijing New Oriental Education & Technology (Group) Co., Ltd., which is a domestic PRC company and our variable interest entity whose financial results are consolidated into our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP;
 
   
“student enrollments” refers to the cumulative total number of courses enrolled in and paid for by our students, including multiple courses enrolled in and paid for by the same student but excluding students enrolled in our kindergarten, primary and secondary schools;
 
   
“shares” or “common shares” refers to our common shares, par value US$0.01 per share;
 
   
“ADSs” refers to our American depositary shares. Prior to August 18, 2011, each of our ADSs represented four common shares. On August 18, 2011, we effected a change in the ratio of our ADSs to common shares from one ADS representing four common shares to one ADS representing one common share. Except as otherwise noted, this change in our ADS to common share ratio has been retroactively reflected in this annual report on Form
20-F;
and
 
   
“RMB” or “Renminbi” refers to the legal currency of China and “$,” “dollars,” “US$” or “U.S. dollars” refers to the legal currency of the United States.
We refer to our teaching facilities in this annual report as either “schools” or “learning centers,” based primarily on a facility’s functions. Generally, our schools consist of classrooms and administrative facilities with student and administrative services, while our learning centers consist primarily of classroom facilities. Each of our schools, including kindergartens, has received a Permit for Operating a Private School from the relevant local government authority.
Our financial statements are expressed in U.S. dollars, which is our reporting currency. Certain of our financial data in this annual report on Form
20-F
is translated into U.S. dollars solely for the reader’s convenience. Unless otherwise noted, all convenient translations from Renminbi to U.S. dollars in this annual report on Form
20-F
were made at a rate of RMB7.1348 to US$1.00, the exchange rate set forth in the H.10 statistical release of the Federal Reserve Board on May 31, 2020. We make no representation that any Renminbi or U.S. dollar amounts could have been, or could be, converted into U.S. dollars or Renminbi, as the case may be, at any particular rate, at the rate stated above, or at all.
Glossary of Major Admissions and Assessment Tests
 
ACT    American College Test (US)
BEC    Business English Certificate (US)
CET 4    College English Test Level 4 (PRC)
CET 6    College English Test Level 6 (PRC)
GMAT    Graduate Management Admission Test (US)
GRE    Graduate Record Examination (US)
IELTS    International English Language Testing System (Commonwealth countries)
LSAT    Law School Admission Test (US)
PETS    Public English Test System (PRC)
SAT    SAT College Entrance Test (US)
TOEFL    Test of English as a Foreign Language (US)
TOEIC    Test of English for International Communication (US)
TSE    Test of Spoken English (US)
 
1

Table of Contents
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This annual report contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties. All statements other than statements of historical facts are forward-looking statements. These forward-looking statements are made under the “safe harbor” provisions of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. These statements involve known and unknown risks, uncertainties and other factors that may cause our actual results, performance or achievements to be materially different from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements.
You can identify these forward-looking statements by words or phrases such as “may,” “will,” “expect,” “is expected to,” “anticipate,” “aim,” “estimate,” “intend,” “plan,” “believe,” “is/are likely to” or other similar expressions. We have based these forward-looking statements largely on our current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy and financial needs. These forward-looking statements include, but are not limited to:
 
   
our anticipated growth strategies;
 
   
our future business development, results of operations and financial condition;
 
   
expected changes in our revenues and certain cost and expense items;
 
   
our ability to increase student enrollments and course fees and expand program, service and product offerings;
 
   
competition in each type of educational program, service and product we provide;
 
   
risks associated with our offering of new educational programs, services and products and the expansion of our geographic reach;
 
   
the expected increase in expenditures on education in China; and
 
   
PRC laws, regulations and policies relating to private education and providers of private educational services.
You should read thoroughly this annual report and the documents that we refer to herein with the understanding that our actual future results may be materially different from and/or worse than what we expect. We qualify all of our forward-looking statements by these cautionary statements. Other sections of this annual report include additional factors which could adversely impact our business and financial performance. Moreover, we operate in an evolving environment. New risk factors emerge from time to time and it is not possible for our management to predict all risk factors, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements.
You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The forward-looking statements made in this annual report relate only to events or information as of the date on which the statements are made in this annual report. We undertake no obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by applicable law.
PART I
 
ITEM 1.
IDENTITY OF DIRECTORS, SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND ADVISERS
Not applicable.
 
ITEM 2.
OFFER STATISTICS AND EXPECTED TIMETABLE
Not applicable.
 
2

Table of Contents
ITEM 3.
KEY INFORMATION
 
A.
Selected Financial Data
Our Selected Consolidated Financial Data
The following tables present the selected consolidated financial data of our company. The selected consolidated statement of operations data for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and the consolidated balance sheet data as of May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements, which are included in this annual report beginning on page
F-1.
The selected consolidated statement of operations data for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2016 and 2017 and the selected consolidated balance sheet data as of May 31, 2016 and 2017 have been derived from our audited consolidated financial statements for the fiscal years ended May 31, 2016 and 2017, which are not included in this annual report. Our historical results do not necessarily indicate results expected for any future periods. The selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with, and are qualified in their entirety by reference to, our audited consolidated financial statements and related notes included elsewhere in this annual report and “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results.” Our audited consolidated financial statements are prepared and presented in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles in the United States, or U.S. GAAP.
 
    
For the Years Ended May 31,
 
(
in thousands of US$ except share and per
share dat
a
)
  
2016
   
2017
   
2018
   
2019
   
2020
 
Selected Consolidated Statement of Operations Data:
          
Net revenues:
          
Educational programs and services
     1,309,339       1,608,954       2,165,152       2,785,254       3,230,378  
Books and other services
     169,009       190,555       282,278       311,237       348,304  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Total net revenues
  
 
1,478,348
 
 
 
1,799,509
 
 
 
2,447,430
 
 
 
3,096,491
 
 
 
3,578,682
 
Operating cost and expenses:
(1)
          
Cost of revenues
     (614,364     (749,586     (1,065,740     (1,376,269     (1,588,899
Selling and marketing
     (197,897     (232,826     (324,249     (384,287     (445,259
General and administrative
     (471,010     (554,948     (794,482     (1,034,028     (1,145,521
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Total operating cost and expenses
  
 
(1,283,271
 
 
(1,537,360
 
 
(2,184,471
 
 
(2,794,584
 
 
(3,179,679
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Gain on disposal of a subsidiary
     3,760       —         —         3,627       —    
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Operating income
  
 
198,837
 
 
 
262,149
 
 
 
262,959
 
 
 
305,534
 
 
 
399,003
 
Other income, net:
          
Interest income
     66,861       61,445       84,838       97,530       116,117  
Interest expense
     —         —         —         (1,615     (4,627
Realized gain from long-term investments
     —         7,086       7,366       26,379       407  
Impairment loss from long-term investments
     —         (2,338     (980     (5,919     (31,750
Loss from fair value change of long-term investments
     —         —         —         (104,636     (18,451
Miscellaneous income (loss), net
     1,586       2,367       2,841       (1,424     27,137  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Provision for income taxes:
          
Current
     (39,467     (51,142     (72,785     (103,031     (142,992
Deferred
     1,936       518       13,377       17,317       8,630  
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Provision for income taxes
  
 
(37,531
 
 
(50,624
 
 
(59,408
 
 
(85,714
 
 
(134,362
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
(Loss) gain from equity method investments
  
 
(4,425
 
 
(3,289
 
 
(379
 
 
(2,289
 
 
1,385
 
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income
  
 
225,328
 
 
 
276,796
 
 
 
297,237
 
 
 
227,846
 
 
 
354,859
 
  
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
   
 
 
 
 
3

Table of Contents
    
For the Years Ended May 31,
 
(
in thousands of US$ except share and per
share dat
a
)
  
2016
    
2017
    
2018
    
2019
   
2020
 
Less: Net income (loss) attributable to noncontrolling interests
  
 
444
 
  
 
2,339
 
  
 
1,107
 
  
 
(10,219
 
 
(58,474
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income attributable to New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc.’s shareholders
     224,884        274,457        296,130        238,065       413,333  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
   
 
 
 
Net income per common share attributable to shareholders of New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc.
(2)
             
-Basic
     1.43        1.74        1.87        1.50       2.61  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
   
 
 
 
-Diluted
     1.43        1.74        1.87        1.50       2.59  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
   
 
 
 
Weighted average shares used in calculating basic net income per common share
     156,782,439        157,551,320        158,168,794        158,293,890       158,429,576  
Weighted average shares used in calculating diluted net income per common share
     157,391,686        157,986,394        158,556,500        159,039,345       159,536,890  
 
(1)
Share-based compensation expenses are included in our operating cost and expenses as follows:
(2)
Each ADS represents one common share.
 
    
For the Years Ended May 31,
 
(in thousands of US$)
  
2016
    
2017
    
2018
    
2019
    
2020
 
Cost of revenues
     —          —          —          134        2,224  
Selling and marketing
     —          —          —          1,205        4,227  
General and administrative
     16,810        20,287        57,443        69,997        55,606  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
Total
     16,810        20,287        57,443        71,336        62,057  
  
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
    
 
 
 
The following table presents our selected consolidated balance sheet data as of May 31, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020:
 
    
As of May 31,
 
(in thousands of US$)
  
2016
    
2017
    
2018
    
2019
    
2020
 
Selected Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
              
Cash and cash equivalents
     709,209        641,018        983,319        1,414,171        915,057  
Total assets
     2,354,834        2,924,979        3,977,712        4,646,559        6,556,885  
Total current liabilities
     918,190        1,202,681        1,750,884        2,006,224        2,479,364  
Total liabilities
     920,172        1,204,901        1,763,017        2,121,462        3,687,074  
Total mezzanine equity
     —          —          206,624        —          —    
Total New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. shareholders’ equity
     1,404,572        1,680,948        1,991,589        2,360,686        2,733,295  
Noncontrolling interests
     30,090        39,130        16,482        164,411        136,516  
Total equity
     1,434,662        1,720,078        2,008,071        2,525,097        2,869,811  
 
4

Table of Contents
B.
Capitalization and Indebtedness
Not applicable.
 
C.
Reasons for the Offer and Use of Proceeds
Not applicable.
 
D.
Risk Factors
Risks Related to Our Business
If we are not able to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, our revenues may decline and we may not be able to maintain profitability.
The success of our business depends primarily on the number of student enrollments in our courses and the amount of course fees that our students are willing to pay. Therefore, our ability to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees is critical to the continued success and growth of our business. This in turn will depend on several factors, including our ability to develop new programs and enhance existing programs to respond to changes in market trends and student demands, expand our geographic reach, manage our growth while maintaining the consistency of our teaching quality, effectively market our programs to a broader base of prospective students, develop and license additional high-quality educational content and respond to competitive pressures. If we are unable to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, our revenue may decline and we may not be able to maintain profitability.
We depend on our dedicated and capable faculty, and if we are not able to continue to hire, train and retain qualified teachers, we may not be able to maintain consistent teaching quality throughout our school network and our brand, business and operating results may be materially and adversely affected.
Our teachers are critical to maintaining the quality of our programs, services and products and maintaining our brand and reputation. It is critical for us to continue to attract qualified teachers who have a strong command of the subject areas to be taught and meet our qualification. We also need to hire teachers who are capable of delivering innovative and inspirational instruction. The number of teachers in China with the necessary experience and language proficiency to teach our courses is limited and we must provide competitive compensation packages to attract and retain qualified teachers. In addition, criteria such as commitment and dedication are difficult to ascertain during the recruitment process, in particular as we continue to expand and add teachers to meet rising student enrollments. We must also provide continuous training to our teachers so that they can stay up to date with changes in student demands, admissions and assessment tests, admissions standards, school curriculum, and other key trends necessary to effectively teach their respective courses. We may not be able to hire, train and retain enough qualified teachers to keep pace with our anticipated growth while maintaining consistent teaching quality across our education services in different geographic locations. In addition, PRC laws and regulations may require our teachers to have requisite licenses. For example, teachers in kindergartens and primary and secondary schools are required to obtain the teacher licenses. The State Council Circular 80 and the Implementation Opinion on Regulating Online After-school Tutoring Activities further require teachers in training schools to apply for teacher licenses, if they teach certain academic subjects in the primary and secondary education stage. If some of our teachers, due to various reasons, are unable to apply for and obtain the requisite teaching licenses on a timely basis, or at all, we may be required to rectify such
non-compliance
and may not be able to continue to retain such teachers. Shortages of qualified teachers or decreases in the quality of our instruction, whether actual or perceived, in one or more of our markets may have a material and adverse effect on our business.
Our business depends on our “New Oriental” brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our business and operating results may be harmed.
We believe that market awareness of our “New Oriental” brand has contributed significantly to the success of our business. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing the “New Oriental” brand is critical to maintaining our competitive advantage. We offer a diverse set of programs, services and products to student populations of all ages across China. As we continue to grow in size, expand our program, service and product offerings and extend our geographic reach, maintaining quality and consistency may be more difficult to achieve.
 
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We have mainly relied on
word-of-mouth
referrals to attract prospective students. We also use various marketing and promotion activities, such as summer promotion programs, online demo courses, social media promotions and outdoor advertising campaigns to promote our brand and course offerings. We cannot, however, assure you that these or our other marketing efforts will be successful in promoting our brand to remain competitive. If we are unable to further enhance our brand recognition and increase awareness of our programs, services and products, or if we incur excessive marketing and promotion expenses, our business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. In addition, any negative publicity relating to our company or our programs and services, regardless of its veracity, could harm our brand image and in turn materially and adversely affect our business and operating results.
Failure to effectively and efficiently manage the expansion of our school network may materially and adversely affect our ability to capitalize on new business opportunities.
We have increased the number of our schools in China from 25 as of May 31, 2006 to 104 as of May 31, 2020, and the number of our learning centers in China from 86 as of May 31, 2006 to 1,361 as of May 31, 2020. We may continue to expand our operations in different geographic locations in China. Our expansion has resulted, and will continue to result, in substantial demands on our management, faculty and operational, technological and other resources. Our expansion will also place significant demands on us to maintain the consistency of our teaching quality and our culture to ensure that our brand does not suffer as a result of any decreases, whether actual or perceived, in our teaching quality. To manage and support our growth, we must continue to improve our existing operational, administrative and technological systems and our financial and management controls, and recruit, train and retain additional qualified teachers, management personnel and other administrative and sales and marketing personnel, particularly as we expand into new markets. We cannot assure you that we will be able to effectively and efficiently manage the growth of our operations, recruit and retain qualified teachers and management personnel and integrate new schools and learning centers into our operations. Any failure to effectively and efficiently manage our expansion may materially and adversely affect our ability to capitalize on new business opportunities, which in turn may have a material adverse impact on our financial condition and results of operations.
If we fail to successfully execute our growth strategies, we may not be able to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, and our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.
Our growth strategies include expanding our program, service and product offerings and our network of schools, learning centers and bookstores, updating and expanding the content of our programs, services and products in a cost-effective and timely manner, as well as maintaining and continuing to establish strategic relationships with complementary businesses. The expansion of our programs, services and products in terms of types of offerings and geographic locations may not succeed due to competition, failure to effectively market our new programs, services and products and maintain their quality and consistency, or other factors. In addition, we may be unable to identify new cities with sufficient growth potential to expand our network, and we may fail to attract students and increase student enrollments or recruit, train and retain qualified teachers for our new schools and learning centers. Some cities in China have undergone development and expansion for several decades while others are still at an early stage of urbanization and development. In more developed cities, it may be difficult to increase the number of schools and learning centers because we and/or our competitors already have extensive operations in these cities. In recently developed and developing cities, demand for our programs, services and products may not increase as rapidly as we expect. Furthermore, we may be unable to develop or license additional content on commercially reasonable terms and in a timely manner, or at all, to keep pace with changes in market demands. If we fail to successfully execute our growth strategies, we may not be able to continue to attract students to enroll in our courses without a significant decrease in course fees, and our business and prospects may be materially and adversely affected.
 
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We may not be able to achieve the benefits we expect from recent and future acquisitions, and recent and future acquisitions may have an adverse effect on our ability to manage our business.
As part of our business strategy, we have pursued and intend to continue to pursue selective strategic acquisitions of businesses that complement our existing businesses. Acquisitions expose us to potential risks, including risks associated with the diversion of resources from our existing businesses, difficulties in successfully integrating the acquired businesses, failure to achieve expected growth by the acquired businesses and an inability to generate sufficient revenue to offset the costs and expenses of acquisitions. If the revenue and cost synergies that we expect to achieve from our acquisitions do not materialize, we may have to recognize impairment charges.
If any one or more of the aforementioned risks associated with acquisitions materialize, our acquisitions may not be beneficial to us and may have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition and results of operations.
Third parties have in the past brought intellectual property infringement claims against us based on the content of the books and other teaching or marketing materials that we or our teachers authored and/or distributed and may bring similar claims against us in the future.
We may be subject to claims by educational institutions and organizations, content providers and publishers, competitors and others on the ground of intellectual property rights infringement, defamation, negligence or other legal theories based on the content of the materials that we or our teachers author and/or distribute as course materials. These types of claims have been brought, sometimes successfully, against print publications and educational institutions in the past, including ourselves. For example, in January 2001, the Graduate Management Admission Council, or GMAC, and Educational Testing Service, or ETS, filed three separate lawsuits against us in the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People’s Court, alleging that we had violated the copyrights and trademarks relating to the GMAT test owned by GMAC and relating to the GRE and TOEFL tests owned by ETS by duplicating, selling and distributing their test materials without their authorization. In September 2003, the trial court found that we had violated GMAC’s and ETS’ respective copyrights and trademarks in connection with those admissions tests. The trial court’s judgment was partially affirmed in a final judgment issued by the Beijing Higher People’s Court in December 2004. The Beijing Higher People’s Court held that we had not misused the trademarks of GMAC or ETS. However, it also found that the TOEFL and GRE tests were the original works of ETS and the GMAT test was the original work of GMAC, all of which are protected under the PRC Copyright Law. The Beijing Higher People’s Court held that our duplication, sale and distribution of the test materials relating to these tests without ETS’ and GMAC’s prior permission were not a “reasonable use” of the test materials under the PRC Copyright Law, and that we, therefore, had infringed upon ETS’ and GMAC’s respective copyrights. We were ordered to pay damages in an aggregate of approximately RMB6.5 million, cease all infringing activities and destroy all copyright-infringing materials in our possession, all of which we have done. Since the Beijing Higher People’s Court issued the final judgment in 2004, we have endeavored to comply with the court order and applicable PRC laws and regulations relating to intellectual property, and we have adopted policies and procedures to prohibit our employees and contractors from engaging in any copyright, trademark or trade name infringing activities. However, we cannot assure you that every teacher or other personnel will strictly comply with these policies at our schools, learning centers or other locations or media through which we provide our programs, services and products.
In order to develop, improve, promote and deliver new products and services, we cooperate with various leading international education content providers and are required to obtain licenses from others from time to time. For example, we have worked with Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Educational Testing Service, Cengage Learning, the Northern Consortium (NCUK) and other education content providers in distributing their education materials in China. With access to such high-quality education content, we further develop localized products that best serve the needs for millions of students and families in the China market. There can be no assurance that we will be able to continue to obtain licenses on commercially reasonable terms or at all or that rights granted under any licenses will be valid and enforceable.
We have been involved in other claims and legal proceedings against us relating to infringement of third parties’ copyrights in materials distributed by us and the unauthorized use of a third party’s name in connection with the marketing and promotion of our programs, and may be subject to further claims in the future, particularly in light of the uncertainties in the interpretation and application of intellectual property laws and regulations. Furthermore, if printed publications or other materials that we or our teachers author and/or distribute contain materials that government authorities find objectionable, these publications may have to be recalled, which could result in increased expenses, loss in revenues and adverse publicity. Any claims against us, with or without merit, could be time-consuming and costly to defend or litigate, divert our management’s attention and resources or result in the loss of goodwill associated with our brand. If a lawsuit against us is successful, we may be required to pay substantial damages and/or enter into royalty or license agreements that may not be based upon commercially reasonable terms, or we may be unable to enter into such agreements at all. We may also lose, or be limited in, the rights to offer some of our programs, services and products or be required to make changes to our course materials or websites. As a result, the scope of our course materials could be reduced, which could adversely affect the effectiveness of our teaching, limit our ability to attract new students, harm our reputation and have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and financial position.
 
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We may lose our competitive advantage and our reputation, brand and operations may suffer if we fail to prevent the loss or misappropriation of, or disputes over, our intellectual property rights.
We consider our trademarks and trade name invaluable to our ability to continue to develop and enhance our brand recognition. We have spent over 20 years building our “New Oriental” brand by emphasizing quality and consistency and building trust among students and parents. From time to time, our trademarks and trade name have been used by third parties for or as part of other branded programs, services and products unrelated to us. We have sent cease and desist letters to such third parties in the past and will continue to do so in the future. However, preventing trademark and trade name infringement, particularly in China, is difficult, costly and time-consuming and continued unauthorized use of our trademarks and trade name by unrelated third parties may damage our reputation and brand. In addition, we have spent significant time and expense developing or licensing and localizing the content of our educational materials to enrich our product offerings and meet students’ needs. There can be no assurance that competitors will not independently develop similar intellectual property. If others are able to copy and use our programs and services, we may not be able to maintain our competitive position. The measures we take to protect our trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights, which presently are based upon a combination of trademark, copyright and trade secret laws, may not be adequate to prevent unauthorized use by third parties. Furthermore, the application of laws governing intellectual property rights in China and abroad is uncertain and evolving, and could involve substantial risks to us. If we are unable to adequately protect our trademarks, copyrights and other intellectual property rights, we may lose these rights, our brand name may be harmed, and our business may suffer materially.
We face significant competition in each major program we offer and each geographic market in which we operate, and if we fail to compete effectively, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.
The private education sector in China is rapidly evolving, highly fragmented and competitive, and we expect competition in this sector to persist and intensify. We face competition in each major program we offer and each geographic market in which we operate. For example, we face competition from companies that focus on providing
K-12
after-school tutoring services, test preparation and language training services in China.
Our student enrollments may decrease due to intense competition. Some of our competitors may have more resources than we do. These competitors may be able to devote greater resources than we can to the development, promotion and sale of their programs, services and products and respond more quickly than we can to changes in student needs, testing materials, admissions standards, school curricula or new technologies. In addition, we face competition from many different smaller sized organizations that focus on some of our targeted markets, and they may be able to respond more promptly to changes in student preferences in these markets. We also face competition from online educational service providers that offer online after-school tutoring services, test preparation and language training courses. These online education service providers use advanced technologies such as online live broadcasting technologies, to offer their programs, services and products quickly and cost-effectively to a large number of students. We may have to reduce course fees or increase spending in response to competition in order to retain or attract students or pursue new market opportunities, which could result in a decrease of our revenues and profitability. We cannot assure you that we will be able to compete successfully against current or future competitors. If we are unable to maintain our competitive position or otherwise respond to competitive pressures effectively, we may lose our market share and our profitability may be adversely affected.
 
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Our business, financial condition and results of operations have been and are likely to continue to be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of
COVID-19.
Since the beginning of 2020, there has been an outbreak of
COVID-19
in China and other countries. The severity of the outbreak has resulted in the temporary closure of schools, learning centers, and many corporate offices across China. From the end of January 2020, we stopped the operation of all learning centers nationwide and moved our offline classes to small size online live broadcasting classes through the
in-house
developed OMO (online-merge-offline) system, which has played a fundamental role in reducing the impact of the
COVID-19
outbreak on our services and operation. We have gradually resumed our offline operations. However, we still experienced higher-than-normal refund rates from cancelation and deferments of our courses and challenges in acquiring new students in the third and the fourth fiscal quarters of 2020. Our total student enrollments in academic subjects for
K-12
after-school tutoring and test preparation courses in the third fiscal quarter of 2020 experienced a lower-than-normal increase of 2.3% year-over-year to approximately 1.6 million and our total student enrollments in academic subjects tutoring and test preparation courses in the fourth fiscal quarter of 2020 experienced a 6.2% year-over-year decrease to approximately 2.6 million. The pandemic caused delays in national exams and enrollments for our summer and autumn classes and the resurgence of the pandemic in certain cities, such as Beijing, has further delayed the resumption of schools, which in turn has shortened the summer holiday. In addition, the
COVID-19
pandemic has had a material and adverse impact, both economically and socially, in other countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and other study-abroad destinations popular among Chinese students. The duration and intensity of disruptions resulting from the
COVID-19
outbreak in these countries remain uncertain. As a result, Chinese students may be discouraged from pursuing study-abroad in the year of 2020, if not longer, which in turn may negatively affect the demand for our overseas test preparation courses, English language training courses, and overseas consulting services. Our business and financial performance have been adversely affected by the outbreak of
COVID-19
in China and other countries since the beginning of 2020, and this is likely to continue throughout the current year and beyond.
We face risks related to health epidemics and other outbreaks, which could result in reduced attendance or temporary closure of our schools, learning centers and bookstores.
In addition to the impact of
COVID-19,
our business could also be materially and adversely affected by other health epidemics, such as H1N1 swine influenza, H7N9 bird flu, avian influenza, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), Ebola or other disease. For example, the influenza A (H1N1) outbreak from 2009 to 2010 adversely affected our business and results of operations in the first and second fiscal quarters of 2010 as we experienced
slower-than-usual
student enrollment growth and large numbers of cancellations and deferments in enrollments from registered students. In addition, we had to cancel classes whenever an enrolled student was diagnosed with influenza A (H1N1), as required by applicable health regulations. Any future outbreak of adverse public health developments in China may have a material and adverse effect on our business operations. These occurrences could cause cancellations or deferments of student enrollments and require the temporary closure of our schools, learning centers and bookstores while we remain obligated to pay rent and other expenses for these facilities, thus severely disrupting our business operations and materially and adversely affecting our liquidity, financial condition and results of operations.
Failure to adequately and promptly respond to changes in testing materials, admissions standards and PRC laws and regulations on school curriculum could cause our programs, services and products to be less attractive to students.
Admissions and assessment tests undergo continuous change, in terms of the focus of the subjects and questions tested, the format of the tests and the manner in which the tests are administered. These changes require us to continually update and enhance our course materials and our teaching methods. For example, on September 18, 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Education, or the MOE, promulgated the Guidance Opinions on Further Promoting the Reform of Exams and Entrance System for High Schools which promotes that the secondary school students shall participate the Secondary School Academic Proficiency Test, instead of participating in both the secondary school graduation exams and high school entrance exams, and the scores of students for certain subjects obtained in this Secondary School Academic Proficiency Test shall be taken into consideration for high school enrollment. In January 2017, the MOE promulgated new curriculum standards for the subject of science in primary schools, which took effect in the fall semester of 2017. In December 2017, the MOE issued the 2017 Curriculum Schemes and Curriculum Standards for Senior Secondary Schools, which was furthered amended in May 2020, and further issued the Opinions on the Implementing Work of the New Curriculums and the New Textbooks of Senior Secondary Schools in August 2018, both of which provides that the MOE developed a new nationwide senior secondary school curriculum system and organized the compilation of a group of new textbooks based on the new curriculum system, which shall be adopted in certain provinces from September 2019 and gradually expand to all other provinces by September 2022. We will adapt our tutoring programs and materials to new curriculum requirements promulgated from time to time. Any inability to track and respond to these changes in a timely and cost-effective manner would make our programs, services and products less attractive to students, which may materially and adversely affect our reputation and ability to continue to attract students without a significant decrease in course fees.
 
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If colleges, universities and other higher education institutions reduce their reliance on admissions and assessment tests, we may experience a decrease in demand for our services and products and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
The success of our business depends on the continued use of admissions and assessment tests as a requirement for admission or graduation. However, the use of admissions tests in China may decline or fall out of favor with educational institutions and government authorities. For example, educational institutions and government authorities in China have recently initiated discussions and conducted early experiments in China on school admissions. Generally, these discussions and experiments exhibit a trend of admission decisions based less on entrance exam scores and more on a combination of other factors, such as past academic record, extracurricular activities and comprehensive aptitude evaluations. There have also been certain changes in some geographic areas in the way the high school entrance exam is administered. If the use of admissions tests in China declines or falls out of favor with educational institutions and government authorities and if we fail to respond to these changes, the demand for certain of our services may decline, and our business may be materially and adversely affected.
In the United States, there has been a continuing debate regarding the usefulness of admissions and assessment tests to assess qualifications of applicants and many people have criticized the use of admissions and assessment tests as unfairly discriminating against certain test takers. If a large number of educational institutions abandon the use of existing admissions and assessment tests as a requirement for admission, without replacing them with other admissions and assessment tests, we may experience a decrease in demand for our overseas test preparation courses and our business may be adversely affected.
We experienced and may continue to experience a decrease in our margins.
Many factors may cause our gross and net margins to decline. For example, we began offering
smaller-sized
classes for our short-term
K-12
after-school tutoring and test preparation courses since 2009 due to market trends. Although our
smaller-sized
classes are highly profitable, they are marginally less profitable on average than our large classes. In addition, new investments and acquisitions may cause our margins to decline before we successfully integrate the acquired businesses into our operations and realize the full benefits of these investments and acquisitions. There is a risk that our margins could continue to decline in the future due to these factors.
New programs, services and products that we develop may compete with our current offerings.
We are constantly developing new programs, services and products to meet changes in student demands and respond to changes in testing materials, admissions standards, market needs and trends and technological changes. While some of the programs, services and products that we develop will expand our current offerings and increase student enrollments, others may compete with or render obsolete our existing offerings without increasing our total student enrollments. For example, our online courses may attract students away from our existing classroom-based courses, and our new schools and learning centers may attract students away from our existing schools and learning centers. If we are unable to expand our program, service and product offerings while increasing our total student enrollments and profitability, our business and growth may be adversely affected.
Our business is subject to fluctuations caused by seasonality or other factors beyond our control, which may cause our operating results to fluctuate from quarter to quarter. This may result in volatility and adversely affect the price of our ADSs.
We have experienced, and expect to continue to experience, seasonal fluctuations in our revenues and results of operations, primarily due to seasonal changes in student enrollments. Historically, our test preparation courses tend to have the highest revenue in our first fiscal quarter, which runs from June 1 to August 31 of each year, primarily because a significant number of students enroll in our courses during summer vacation to prepare for admissions and assessment tests. In addition, we have generally experienced higher revenue in our third fiscal quarter, which runs from December 1 to February 28 of each year, primarily because many students enroll in our test preparation courses during the winter school holidays. Our
K-12
after-school tutoring courses tend to have higher revenue in the second half of our fiscal year, primarily because we gain more student enrollments as it gets closer to the exam season, such as the Zhongkao and Gaokao. However, our expenses vary, and certain of our expenses do not necessarily correspond with changes in our student enrollments and revenues. For example, we make investments in marketing and promotion, teacher recruitment and training, and product development throughout the year and we pay rent for our facilities based on the terms of the lease agreements. In addition, other factors beyond our control, including health epidemics and special events that take place during a quarter when our student enrollment would normally be high, may have a negative impact on our student enrollments. For example, the outbreak of
COVID-19
since the beginning of 2020 had adversely affected our financial and operating results in the third and fourth fiscal quarters of 2020. We expect quarterly fluctuations in our revenues and results of operations to continue. These fluctuations could result in volatility and adversely affect the price of our ADSs. As our revenues grow, these seasonal fluctuations may become more pronounced.
 
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Our reputation, results of operations, financial condition and the trading price of our ADSs may be negatively affected by adverse publicity or other detrimental conduct against us.
Adverse publicity concerning our failure or perceived failure to comply with legal and regulatory requirements, alleged accounting or financial reporting irregularities, regulatory scrutiny and further regulatory action or litigation could harm our reputation, result in our incurrence of substantial costs and distract our management’s attention and cause the trading price of our ADSs to decline and fluctuate significantly. For example, after we issued a press release on July 17, 2012 disclosing that we were subject to the investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC, and Muddy Waters LLC, an entity unrelated to us, which issued a report containing various allegations about us on July 18, 2012, the trading price of our ADSs declined sharply and we were inundated by numerous investor inquiries. In late 2016, there was negative media coverage referencing our small overseas study consulting division. The negative publicity and the resulting decline of the trading price of our ADSs also led to the filing of shareholder class action lawsuits against us and some of our senior executive officers. In addition, certain of our directors are subject to alleged class actions due to their current or previous directorships in other listed companies. Our directors and executive officers may also face litigation or proceedings (including alleged or future securities class action) unrelated to their respective capacity as a director or executive officer of our company, and such litigation or proceedings may adversely affect our public image and reputation.
We may continue to be the target of adverse publicity and other detrimental conduct against us. Such conduct includes complaints, anonymous or otherwise, to regulatory agencies regarding our operations, accounting, revenues and regulatory compliance. Additionally, allegations against us may be posted on the internet by any person or entity which identifies itself or on an anonymous basis. We may be subject to government or regulatory investigation or inquiries as a result of such third-party conduct and may be required to incur significant time and substantial costs to defend ourselves, and there is no assurance that we will be able to conclusively refute each of the allegations within a reasonable period of time, or at all. Our reputation may also be negatively affected as a result of the public dissemination of allegations or malicious statements about us, which in turn may materially and adversely affect our business, results of operations and financial condition and the trading price of our ADSs on the NYSE.
Our historical financial and operating results are not indicative of our future performance; and our financial and operating results are difficult to forecast.
Our financial and operating results may not meet the expectations of public market analysts or investors, which could cause the price of our ADSs to decline. In addition to the fluctuations described above, our revenues, expenses and operating results may vary from quarter to quarter and from year to year in response to a variety of other factors beyond our control, including:
 
   
general economic conditions;
 
   
regulations or actions pertaining to the provision of private educational services in China;
 
   
detrimental negative publicity about us, our competitors or our industry;
 
   
changes in consumers’ spending patterns; and
 
   
non-recurring
charges incurred in connection with acquisitions or other extraordinary transactions or unexpected circumstances.
 
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Due to these and other factors, we believe that
quarter-to-quarter
comparisons of our operating results may not be indicative of our future performance, and therefore you should not rely on them to predict the future performance of our ADSs. In addition, our past results may not be indicative of future performance because of new businesses developed or acquired by us.
Our business is difficult to evaluate because we have limited experience generating net income from some of our new services.
Historically, our core businesses have been English language training for adults and test preparation courses for college and graduate students. We have expanded our offerings through internal development and external investments. Some of these operations have not generated significant or any profit to date, and we have less experience responding quickly to changes, competing successfully and maintaining and expanding our brand in these areas without jeopardizing our brand in other areas. Consequently, there is limited operating history on which you can base your evaluation of the business and prospects of these relatively more recent operations.
The continuing efforts of our senior management team and other key personnel are important to our success, and our business may be harmed if we lose their services.
It is important for us to have the continuing services of our senior management team, in particular, Mr. Michael Minhong Yu, our founder and executive chairman, who has been our leader since our inception in 1993. If one or more of our senior executives or other key personnel are unable or unwilling to continue in their present positions, we may not be able to replace them easily, and our business may be disrupted. Competition for experienced management personnel in the private education sector is intense, the pool of qualified candidates is very limited, and we may not be able to retain the services of our senior executives or key personnel, or attract and retain high-quality senior executives or key personnel in the future. In addition, if any member of our senior management team or any of our other key personnel joins a competitor or forms a competing company, we may lose teachers, students, key professionals and staff members. Each of our executive officers and key employees is subject to the duty of confidentiality and
non-competition
restrictions. However, if any disputes arise between any of our senior executives or key personnel and us, it may be difficult to successfully pursue legal actions against these individuals because of the uncertainties of China’s legal systems.
We generate a significant portion of our revenues from certain cities in China. Any event negatively affecting the private education industry in these cities could have a material adverse effect on our overall business and results of operations.
We derived
a significant portion
of our total net revenues for the fiscal year ended May 31, 2020 from our operations in Beijing, Hangzhou, Xi’an, and Shanghai, and we expect these cities to continue to constitute important sources of our revenues. If any of these cities experiences an event negatively affecting its private education industry, such as a serious economic downturn, a natural disaster or an outbreak of contagious disease, or if any of these cities adopts regulations relating to private education that place additional restrictions or burdens on us, our overall business and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected. For example, the outbreak of
COVID-19
since the beginning of 2020 adversely affected our financial results and operations in the third and fourth fiscal quarter of 2020, see “Risks Related to Our Business—Our business, financial condition and results of operations have been and are likely to continue to be materially and adversely affected by the outbreak of
COVID-19.”
If we are not able to continually enhance our online programs, services and products and online education systems and adapt them to rapid technological changes and student needs, we may lose market share and our business could be adversely affected.
The market for online educational programs, services and products is characterized by rapid technological changes and innovation, such as artificial intelligence, as well as unpredictable product life cycles and user preferences. We must quickly modify our programs, services and products to adapt to changing student needs and preferences, technological advances and evolving internet practices to compete successfully in the online education market. Ongoing enhancement of our online offerings and related technology may entail significant expense and technical risk. We may fail to use new technologies effectively or adapt our online products or services and related technology on a timely and cost-effective basis. In addition, we developed the OMO standardized digital classroom teaching system in 2014, which has since evolved into an online education system that complements and supports students’ offline learning activities. We have applied the OMO system across our comprehensive educational service offerings. If our improvements to our online offerings and online education systems and the related technology are delayed, result in systems interruptions or are not aligned with market expectations or preferences, we may lose market share and our business could be adversely affected.
 
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Failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 could have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs.
We are subject to the reporting obligations under the U.S. securities laws. The SEC, as required under Section 404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, adopted rules requiring every public company to include a management report on such company’s internal control over financial reporting in its annual report, which contains management’s assessment of the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. In addition, an independent registered public accounting firm must attest to and report on the effectiveness of the company’s internal control over financial reporting. Although our management concluded, and our independent registered public accounting firm reported, that we maintained effective internal control over financial reporting as of May 31, 2020, we cannot assure you that we will maintain effective internal control over financial reporting on an ongoing basis. If we fail to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting, we will not be able to conclude and our independent registered public accounting firm will not be able to report that we have effective internal control over financial reporting in accordance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 in our future annual report on Form
20-F
covering the fiscal year in which this failure occurs. Effective internal control over financial reporting is necessary for us to produce reliable financial reports. Any failure to maintain effective internal control over financial reporting could result in the loss of investor confidence in the reliability of our financial statements, which in turn could have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs. Furthermore, we may need to incur additional costs and use additional management and other resources as our business and operations further expand or in an effort to remediate any significant control deficiencies that may be identified in the future.
We do not have liability or business disruption insurance in some of our teaching facilities, and a liability claim against us due to injuries suffered by our students or other people at our facilities could adversely affect our reputation and our financial results.
We could be held liable for accidents that occur at our schools, learning centers and other facilities, including indoor facilities where we organize certain summer camp activities and temporary housing facilities that we lease for our students from time to time. In the event of
on-site
food poisoning, personal injuries, fires or other accidents suffered by students or other people, we could face claims alleging that we were negligent, provided inadequate supervision or were otherwise liable for the injuries. We currently do not have liability insurance or business disruption insurance in some of our teaching facilities. A successful liability claim against us due to injuries suffered by our students or other people at our facilities could adversely affect our reputation and our financial results. Even if unsuccessful, such a claim could cause unfavorable publicity, require substantial cost to defend and divert the time and attention of our management from the operation of our business.
Capacity constraints or system disruptions to our computer systems or websites, any cybersecurity incidents, or a leak of student data could damage our reputation, limit our ability to retain students and increase student enrollments and require us to expend significant resources.
The performance and reliability of our online program infrastructure is critical to our reputation and ability to retain students and increase student enrollments. Any system error or failure, or a sudden and significant increase in traffic, could result in the difficulty of accessing our websites by our students or unavailability of our online programs. Although we use elastic cloud computing with an aim to timely expand our online program infrastructure to meet demand for such programs, we cannot assure you this will be sufficient to meet the increasing demands of our students as our business continues to grow. Our computer systems and operations could be vulnerable to interruption or malfunction due to events beyond our control, including natural disasters and telecommunications failures. We use various cloud data centers which enable us to restore service quickly in case of significant damage to our
on-site
computer center.
 
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Although we have built a backup system that runs on different servers for our operating data, we may still lose important student data or suffer disruption to our operations if there is a failure of the database system or the backup system. To ensure the confidentiality and integrity of our data, including confidential student, parent and teaching staff information, we have taken security measures and adopted internal policies to protect such data. However, our computer networks may be vulnerable to unauthorized access, hacking, computer viruses and other security problems. Computer hackers may attempt to penetrate our network security and our website. We have in the past experienced several computer attacks, although they did not materially affect our operations. Unauthorized access to our proprietary business information or customer data may be obtained through
break-ins,
sabotage, breach of our secure network by an unauthorized party, computer viruses, computer
denial-of-service
attacks, employee theft or misuse, breach of the security of the networks of our third party providers, or other misconduct. Because the techniques used by computer programmers who may attempt to penetrate and sabotage our network security or our website change frequently and may not be recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate these techniques. A user who circumvents security measures could misappropriate proprietary information or cause interruptions or malfunctions in operations. We could suffer economic and reputational damages and even bear legal liabilities if a technical failure of our systems or a security breach compromises student data, including identification or contact information, although there has not been any material compromise in the past. Any interruption to our computer systems or operations could have a material adverse effect on our ability to retain students and increase student enrollments.
We may be required to expend significant resources to protect against the threat of security breaches or to alleviate problems caused by these breaches, which would increase the cost of our business and eventually have adverse effect on our financial conditions and results of operations.
Failure to comply with governmental regulation and other legal obligations concerning personal information protection may adversely affect our business, as we routinely collect, store and use personal information during our business.
We routinely collect, store and use personal information during our operations. We are subject to PRC laws and regulations governing the receiving, storing, sharing, using, processing, disclosure and protection of personal information on the Internet and mobile platforms. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations Relating to Online Education—Regulation Related to Internet Information Security and Privacy Protection.” The scope of these laws and regulations is evolving and further detailed implementation rules and interpretations may be promulgated. We cannot assure you that we can adapt our operations to the requirements promptly. If we fail to comply with these laws and regulations, we may be penalized by the relevant authorities and be subject to litigation against us by consumer advocacy groups or others or negative publicity, and our operations or reputation could therefore be adversely affected.
Terrorist attacks, geopolitical uncertainty, economic slowdown and international conflicts involving the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere may discourage more students from studying in the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere outside of China, which could cause declines in the student enrollments for our courses.
Terrorist attacks, geopolitical uncertainty, economic slowdown and international conflicts involving the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere, such as the attacks on September 11, 2001, the Boston marathon bombings on April 15, 2013, and the announcement of Brexit in June 2016, could have an adverse effect on our overseas test preparation courses and English language training courses. Recently, there have been heightened tensions in relations between the United States and China. The U.S. government has imposed, and may continue to impose, restrictions to limit the entry of certain Chinese students to pursue academic studies in the United States. Such events may discourage students from studying in the United States and elsewhere outside of China and may also make it more difficult for Chinese students to obtain visas to study abroad. These factors could cause declines in the student enrollments for our test preparation and English language training courses and could have an adverse effect on our overall business and results of operations.
We and certain of our directors and officers have been named as a defendant in a putative shareholder class action lawsuit that could have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and reputation.
 
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We will have to defend against putative shareholder class action lawsuits described in “Item 8. Financial Information—A. Consolidated Statements and Other Financial Information—Legal and Administrative Proceedings,” including any appeals of such lawsuits should our initial defenses be unsuccessful. We are currently unable to estimate the possible outcome or loss or possible range of loss, if any, associated with the resolution of the lawsuit. In the event that our initial defense of the lawsuit is unsuccessful, there can be no assurance that we will prevail in any appeal. Any adverse outcome, including any plaintiff’s appeal of a judgment in the lawsuit, could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations, cash flows and reputation. In addition, there can be no assurance that our insurance carriers will cover all or part of the defense costs, or any liabilities that may arise from these matters. The litigation process may utilize a significant portion of our resources and divert management’s attention from the
day-to-day
operations of our company, all of which could harm our business. We also may be subject to claims for indemnification related to these matters, and we cannot predict the impact that indemnification claims may have on our business or financial results.
We may need additional capital, and financing may not be available on terms acceptable to us, or at all.
We believe that our current cash and cash equivalents and anticipated cash flow from operations will be sufficient to meet our anticipated cash needs for the near future. We may, however, require additional cash resources to finance our continued growth or other future developments, including any investments or acquisitions we may decide to pursue. The amount and timing of such additional financing needs will vary principally depending on the timing of new school and learning center openings, investments and/or acquisitions, and the amount of cash flow from our operations. If our existing cash resources are insufficient to satisfy our cash requirements, we may seek to sell additional equity or debt securities or obtain a credit facility. The sale of additional equity securities could result in additional dilution to our shareholders. The incurrence of indebtedness would result in increased debt service obligations and could result in operating and financing covenants that would restrict our operations.
Our ability to obtain additional capital on acceptable terms is subject to a variety of uncertainties, including:
 
   
investors’ perception of, and demand for, securities of educational service providers;
 
   
conditions of the U.S. and other capital markets in which we may seek to raise funds;
 
   
our future results of operations, financial condition and cash flows;
 
   
PRC governmental regulation of foreign investment in education in China;
 
   
economic, political and other conditions in China; and
 
   
PRC governmental policies relating to foreign currency borrowings.
We cannot assure you that financing will be available in amounts or on terms acceptable to us, if at all, especially in the event of a severe and prolonged economic recession globally or in the jurisdictions where we operate. If we fail to raise additional funds, we may need to reduce our growth to a level that can be supported by our cash flow. Without additional capital, we may not be able to open additional schools and learning centers, acquire necessary technologies, products or businesses, hire, train and retain teachers and other employees, market our programs, services and products, or respond to competitive pressures or unanticipated capital requirements.
If we are unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes, or our current or future debt and other agreements, on our cash flow and liquidity could be adversely affected.
In July 2020, we completed an offering of US$300 million aggregate principal amount of 2.125% notes due 2025, or the 2025 Notes. If we are unable to comply with the restrictions and covenants in the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes, or our current or future debt and other agreements, there could be a default under the terms of these agreements. In the event of a default under these agreements, the holders of the debt could terminate their commitments to lend to us, accelerate the debt and declare all amounts borrowed due and payable or terminate the agreements, as the case may be. Furthermore, some of our debt agreements, including the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes, contain cross-acceleration or cross-default provisions. As a result, our default under one debt agreement may cause the acceleration of debt, including the 2025 Notes, or result in a default under our other debt agreements, including the trust deed in connection with the 2025 Notes. If any of these events occur, we cannot assure you that our assets and cash flow would be sufficient to repay in full all of our indebtedness, or that we would be able to find alternative financing. Even if we could obtain alternative financing, we cannot assure you that it would be on terms that are favorable or acceptable to us. The occurrence of these events may have a material adverse effect on our cash flow and liquidity.
 
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Failure to control rental costs, obtain leases at desired locations at reasonable prices or protect our leasehold interests could materially and adversely affect our business.
Our office, schools and learning centers are mainly located on leased premises. The lease term generally ranges from three to fifteen years and the lease agreements are renewable upon mutual consent at the end of the applicable lease period. We may not be able to obtain new leases at desirable locations or renew our existing leases on acceptable terms or at all, which could adversely affect our business. We may have to relocate our operations for various other reasons, including increasing rentals, failure in passing the fire inspection in certain locations, the violation of the prescribed usage of the leased properties, and the early termination of our lease agreements under applicable PRC laws and regulations.
In addition, a few of our lessors have not been able to provide us with copies of title certificates or other evidentiary documents to prove that they have authorization to lease the properties to us. Our business and legal teams followed an internal procedure to identify and assess risks in connection with leasing the properties, and a final business decision was made after our analysis of the likely impact of the defects on the leasehold interests and the value of the properties to our expansion plan. However, there is no assurance that our decision would always lead to the favorable outcome we expected to achieve. If any of our leases are terminated as a result of challenges by third parties or government authorities for lack of title certificates or proof of authorization to lease, we do not expect to be subject to any fines or penalties but we may be forced to relocate the affected learning centers and incur additional expenses relating to such relocation. Furthermore, a few of our lessors have mortgaged the properties that we are renting. In the event that these properties are foreclosed on due to the lessors’ failure to perform their obligations to the creditors, we may not be able to continue to use such leased properties and may incur additional expenses for relocation.
In addition, we have not registered some of our lease agreements with the relevant PRC governmental authorities as required by relevant PRC law. While the lack of registration would not affect the validity and enforceability of the lease agreements in practice, we may be required by the relevant governmental authorities to complete such registration, or otherwise be subject to fines ranging from RMB1,000 to RMB10,000 for each lease agreement that has not been registered.
According to the PRC fire safety laws and regulations, construction and renovation of buildings are subject to fire control approvals or fire control filings except for certain statutory exemptions. A portion of our leased properties may not fully comply with the fire control approval or fire control filing requirements. We also cannot assure you that the properties we lease in the future would fully comply with the relevant fire control laws and regulations. If our use of the leased properties is challenged by relevant government authorities for lack of fire control procedures, we may be subject to fines and may need to relocate our operations to other locations, which would incur additional expenses. If we fail to find suitable replacement sites in a timely manner or on terms acceptable to us, our business and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Risks Related to Our Corporate Structure
If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating some of our China business do not comply with applicable PRC laws and regulations relating to the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.
PRC laws and regulations currently require any foreign entity that invests in the education business in China to be an educational institution with relevant experience in providing educational services outside China. Our offshore holding companies are not educational institutions and do not provide educational services outside China. In addition, in the PRC, foreign ownership of high schools for students in grade ten to twelve is restricted and foreign ownership of primary and middle schools for students in grades one to nine is prohibited. As a result, our offshore holding companies are not allowed to directly own and operate schools in China.
 
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We conduct substantially all of our education business in China through a series of contractual arrangements with New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and New Oriental China’s shareholder. These contractual arrangements enable us to (1) have power to direct the activities that most significantly affect the economic performance of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries; (2) receive substantially all of the economic benefits from New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries in consideration for the services provided by our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China; and (3) have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in New Oriental China, when and to the extent permitted by PRC law, or request any existing shareholder of New Oriental China to transfer all or part of the equity interest in New Oriental China to another PRC person or entity designated by us at any time in our discretion. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with New Oriental China, Its Schools and Subsidiaries and Its Shareholder.”
In addition, foreign ownership in entities that provided value-added telecommunication services, with a few exceptions, is subject to restrictions under the current PRC laws and regulations. Specifically, foreign ownership of an internet information service provider may not exceed 50%, and the major foreign investor is required to have a record of good performance and operating experience in managing value-added telecommunication business. To ensure compliance with the PRC laws and regulations, our online education business is operated by our majority-owned subsidiary, Koolearn Technology Holding Limited, or Koolearn, through a series of contractual arrangements with Beijing New Oriental Xuncheng Network Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Xuncheng, and its subsidiaries and shareholders. These contractual arrangements enable Koolearn to (1) have power to direct the activities that most significantly affect the economic performance of Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries; (2) receive substantially all of the economic benefits from Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries in consideration for the services provided by Koolearn’s wholly-owned subsidiaries in China; and (3) have an exclusive option to purchase all or part of the equity interests in Beijing Xuncheng, when and to the extent permitted by PRC law, or request any existing shareholder of Beijing Xuncheng to transfer all or part of the equity interest in Beijing Xuncheng to another PRC person or entity designated by us at any time in our discretion. For a description of these contractual arrangements, see “Item 4. Information on the Company—C. Organizational Structure—Contractual Arrangements with Beijing Xuncheng, Its Subsidiaries and Shareholders.” In this annual report, we refer to New Oriental China and Beijing Xuncheng as our variable interest entities, and to New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries as well as Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries as our consolidated affiliated entities.
Tian Yuan Law Firm, our PRC legal counsel, is of the opinion that, as of the date of this annual report:
 
   
(i) the corporate structure of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, and (ii) the corporate structure of Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries and the wholly-owned subsidiaries of Koolearn in China are not in violation of existing PRC laws and regulations;
 
   
(i) the contractual arrangements among our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and the shareholder of New Oriental China, and (ii) the contractual arrangements among Koolearn’s wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries and shareholders are valid, binding and enforceable under, and do not violate, PRC laws or regulations currently in effect.
On November 7, 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Opinions of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and State Council on Deepening Reform in Preschool Education, or Preschool Opinions. The Preschool Opinions provide that
non-state
capital is prohibited from controlling
non-profit
kindergartens through contractual arrangements. In January 2019, the General Office of the State Council issued the Circular on Initiating the Rectification of Kindergartens Affiliated to the Residential Communities in Urban Areas, pursuant to which the community-affiliated kindergartens can only be registered as
non-profit
kindergartens. As of the date of this annual report, we have not been requested by competent government authorities to unwind the contractual arrangements over our kindergartens.
 
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The Preschool Opinions also provide that private kindergartens are prohibited from listing as public companies by themselves or through packaging with other assets; and listed companies are prohibited from investing in
for-profit
kindergartens using funds from the capital market and acquiring
for-profit
kindergarten assets with stock or cash consideration. As advised by our PRC legal counsel, Tian Yuan Law Firm, the prohibition of private kindergartens from listing as public companies shall not have retrospective effect on private kindergartens that are already operated by a listed company prior to the promulgation of the Preschool Opinions, and as we have been a public company since 2006, our kindergartens do not fall within “listing as public companies by themselves or through packaging with other assets.” After the promulgation of the Preschool Opinions, we did not make investment in or acquisition of
for-profit
private kindergartens in a way that is prohibited by the Preschool Opinions. As of the date of this annual report, the contribution of all kindergartens is immaterial to our business.
In addition, on August 10, 2018, the Ministry of Justice published for public comments a draft of the amended Implementation Rules for the Amended Private Education Law, or the Draft Amended Implementation Rules, which prohibit entities implementing group-based education from gaining control over
non-profit
schools through contractual arrangements. As of the date of this annual report, we control two compulsory-education schools, Beijing Changping New Oriental Bilingual School and Beijing New Oriental Yangzhou Foreign Language School, which as required by the Private Education Law, can only be registered as
non-profit
private schools. As of the date of this annual report, the Draft Amended Implementation Rules is still pending for approval and has not come into effect. Our PRC legal counsel is of the view that since the Draft Amended Implementation Rules has not come into effect and is not legally binding, the corporate structure of our company does not violate PRC laws currently in effect due to the existence of the Draft Amended Implementation Rules. Since the Draft Amended Implementation Rules does not define group-based education, there is uncertainty as to whether we are implementing group-based education. It is also uncertain whether we will be grandfathered under the Draft Amended Implementation Rules as our contractual arrangements over non-profit schools have been entered into prior to the Draft Amended Implementation Rules that is still pending to come into effect. If the Draft Amended Implementation Rules is promulgated as an effective regulation in the future in its current form, and if we are not allowed to operate our two compulsory-education schools under the Draft Amended Implementation Rules, we may be requested by competent government authorities to unwind our contractual arrangements over these two compulsory-education schools.
We have been advised by our PRC legal counsel, however, that there are substantial uncertainties regarding the interpretation and application of current and future PRC laws and regulations. Accordingly, there can be no assurance that the PRC regulatory authorities will not in the future take a view that is contrary to the above opinion of our PRC legal counsel. For example, if the relevant government authorities take a different view from ours on the Preschool Opinions and determine that our
for-profit
and/or
non-profit
kindergartens shall be excluded from our company, we may be requested to unwind the contractual arrangements for some or all of our kindergartens.
It is uncertain whether any new PRC laws, rules or regulations relating to variable interest entity structures will be adopted or if adopted, what they would provide. In particular, whether and how the Foreign Investment Law promulgated in March 2019, which came into effect on January 1, 2020, will impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance and business operations. See “Risks Related to Doing Business in China—Uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance, business, financial condition and results of operations.”
We have been further advised by our PRC counsel that if we, any of our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated affiliated entities are found to be in violation of any existing or future PRC laws or regulations or fail to obtain or maintain any of the required permits or approvals, the relevant PRC regulatory authorities, including the Ministry of Education, which regulates the education industry, would have broad discretion in dealing with such violations, including:
 
   
revoking the business and operating licenses of our PRC subsidiaries or consolidated affiliated entities;
 
   
confiscating any of our income that they deem to be obtained through illegal operations;
 
   
discontinuing or restricting the operations of any related-party transactions among our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities;
 
   
restricting our right to collect revenues or limiting our business expansion in China by way of entering into contractual arrangements;
 
   
imposing fines or other requirements with which we may not be able to comply;
 
   
requiring us to restructure our corporate structure or operations;
 
   
restricting or prohibiting our use of the proceeds of our future offering to finance our business and operations in China; or
 
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taking other regulatory or enforcement actions that could be harmful to our business.
The imposition of any of these penalties could result in a material and adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business and on our results of operations. If any of these penalties results in our inability to direct the activities of our consolidated affiliated entities that most significantly impact their economic performance, and/or our failure to receive the economic benefits from our consolidated affiliated entities, we may not be able to consolidate our consolidated affiliated entities in our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP. However, we do not believe that such actions would result in the liquidation or dissolution of our company, our subsidiaries in China or our consolidated affiliated entities.
We rely on contractual arrangements for our operations in China, which may not be as effective in providing operational control as direct ownership.
We have relied and expect to continue to rely on contractual arrangements with our variable interest entities, their respective schools and/or subsidiaries and their respective shareholders to operate substantially all of our education business. These contractual arrangements may not be as effective in providing us with control over our variable interest entities as direct ownership. From the legal perspective, if our variable interest entities, any of their schools and/or subsidiaries or their shareholders fails to perform its respective obligations under the contractual arrangements, we may have to incur substantial costs and spend other resources to enforce such arrangements, and rely on legal remedies under PRC law, including seeking specific performance or injunctive relief and claiming damages. For example, if Beijing Century Friendship Education Investment Co., Ltd., or Century Friendship, the sole shareholder of New Oriental China, were to refuse to transfer its equity interest in New Oriental China to us or our designee when we exercise the call option pursuant to the option agreement, or if it otherwise acts in bad faith toward us, then we may have to take legal action to compel it to fulfill its contractual obligations, which could be time consuming and costly.
These contractual arrangements are governed by PRC law and provide for the resolution of disputes through arbitration in the PRC or through the PRC courts. The legal environment in the PRC is not as developed as in some other jurisdictions, such as the United States. As a result, uncertainties in the PRC legal system could limit our ability to enforce these contractual arrangements. In the fiscal years ended May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, our consolidated affiliated entities contributed in aggregate 98.8%, 98.7% and 96.5%, respectively, of our total net revenues. In the event we are unable to enforce these contractual arrangements, we may not be able to have the power to direct the activities that most significantly affect the economic performance of our consolidated affiliated entities, and our ability to conduct our business may be negatively affected, and we may not be able to consolidate the financial results of our consolidated affiliated entities into our consolidated financial statements in accordance with U.S. GAAP.
Our ability to enforce the equity pledge agreements between us and the shareholders of our variable interest entities may be subject to limitations based on PRC laws and regulations.
Pursuant to the equity pledge agreements among our subsidiaries in China, each of our variable interest entities and their respective shareholders, each shareholder of our variable interest entities agrees to pledge its equity interests in the variable interest entity to our subsidiaries to secure the performance by themselves and by our consolidated affiliated entities of their obligations under the relevant contractual arrangements. The equity pledges of shareholders of our variable interest entities under these equity pledge agreements have been registered with the relevant local branch of the State Administration for Market Regulation, or the SAMR. According to the PRC Property Law and PRC Guarantee Law, the pledgee and the pledgor are prohibited from making an agreement prior to the expiration of the debt performance period to transfer the ownership of the pledged equity to the pledgee. However, under the PRC Property Law, when an obligor fails to pay its debt when due, the pledgee may choose to either conclude an agreement with the pledgor to obtain the pledged equity or seek payments from the proceeds of the auction or
sell-off
of the pledged equity. If any of our consolidated affiliated entities or any of the shareholders of our variable interest entities fails to perform its obligations secured by the pledges under the equity pledge agreements, one remedy in the event of default under the agreements is to require the pledgor to sell the equity interests of our variable interest entity in an auction or private sale and remit the proceeds to our subsidiaries in China, net of related taxes and expenses. Such an auction or private sale may not result in our receipt of the full value of the equity interests in the variable interest entity. We consider it very unlikely that the public auction process would be undertaken since, in an event of default, our preferred approach is to ask our PRC subsidiary, a party to the option agreement with the shareholder of our variable interest entities, to designate another PRC person or entity to replace the shareholder pursuant to the direct transfer option we have under the option agreement.
 
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In addition, for New Oriental China, the amount of registered equity interests pledged to our wholly-owned subsidiaries in the registration forms of the local branch of the SAMR was stated as RMB3,000,000, RMB18,500,000, RMB9,500,000, RMB14,000,000 and RMB5,000,000, respectively, which in aggregate represent 100% of the registered capital of New Oriental China. The equity pledge agreements with New Oriental China’s shareholder provide that the pledged equity interest shall constitute continuing security for any and all of the indebtedness, obligations and liabilities under all of the principal service agreements and the scope of pledge shall not be limited by the amount of the registered capital of New Oriental China. However, it is possible that a PRC court may take the position that the amount listed on the equity pledge registration forms represents the full amount of the collateral that has been registered and perfected. If this is the case, the obligations that are supposed to be secured in the equity pledge agreements in excess of the amount listed on the equity pledge registration forms could be determined by the PRC court as unsecured debt, which takes last priority among creditors and often does not have to be paid back at all. We do not have agreements that pledge the assets of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries for the benefit of us or our wholly-owned subsidiaries.
The controlling shareholder of Century Friendship, which is the sole shareholder of New Oriental China, may have potential conflicts of interest with us, and if any such conflicts of interest are not resolved in our favor, our business may be materially and adversely affected.
New Oriental China is the majority shareholder of Beijing Xuncheng, holding 74.494% of Beijing Xuncheng as of May 31, 2020. New Oriental China is wholly owned by Century Friendship, a PRC domestic company which is controlled by Mr. Michael Minhong Yu, our founder and executive chairman. The interests of Mr. Yu as the controlling shareholder of the entity which owns New Oriental China may differ from the interests of our company as a whole, since Mr. Yu is only one of the beneficial owners of our company, holding 12.4% of our total common shares issued and outstanding as of September 7, 2020. We cannot assure you that when conflicts of interest arise, Mr. Yu will act in the best interests of our company or that conflicts of interests will be resolved in our favor. In addition, Mr. Yu may breach or cause New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to breach or cause Beijing Xuncheng and its subsidiaries to breach or refuse to renew the existing contractual arrangements with us. Currently, we do not have existing arrangements to address potential conflicts of interest Mr. Yu may encounter in his capacity as a beneficial owner and director of New Oriental China, on the one hand, and as a beneficial owner and director of our company, on the other hand; provided that we could, at all times, exercise our option under the option agreement with Century Friendship to cause it to transfer all of its equity ownership in New Oriental China to a PRC entity or individual designated by us, and this new shareholder of New Oriental China could then appoint a new director of New Oriental China to replace Mr. Yu. In addition, if such conflicts of interest arise, Beijing Pioneer could also, in the capacity of Century Friendship’s
attorney-in-fact
as provided under the proxy agreement and power of attorney, directly appoint a new director of New Oriental China to replace Mr. Yu. We rely on Century Friendship and Mr. Yu to comply with the laws of China, which protect contracts, including the contractual arrangements New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries and its shareholder have entered into with us, which provide that directors and executive officers owe a duty of loyalty to our company and require them to avoid conflicts of interest and not to take advantage of their positions for personal gains. We also rely on Mr. Yu to abide by the laws of the Cayman Islands, which provide that directors have a duty of care and a duty of loyalty to act honestly in good faith with a view to our best interests. However, the legal frameworks of China and the Cayman Islands do not provide guidance on resolving conflicts in the event of a conflict with another corporate governance regime. If we cannot resolve any conflicts of interest or disputes between us and Century Friendship and Mr. Yu, we would have to rely on legal proceedings, which could result in disruption of our business and subject us to substantial uncertainty as to the outcome of any such legal proceedings.
If the custodians or authorized users of our controlling
non-tangible
assets, including chops and seals, fail to fulfill their responsibilities, or misappropriate or misuse these assets, our business and operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Under PRC law, legal documents for corporate transactions, including agreements and contracts such as the leases and sales contracts that our business relies on, are executed using the chop or seal of the signing entity or with the signature of a legal representative whose designation is registered and filed with the relevant local branch of the SAMR. We generally execute legal documents by affixing chops or seals, rather than having the designated legal representatives sign the documents.
 
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We have three major types of chops—corporate chops, contract chops and finance chops. We use corporate chops generally for documents to be submitted to government agencies, such as applications for changing business scope, directors or company name, and for legal letters. We use contract chops for executing leases and commercial, contracts. We use finance chops generally for making and collecting payments, including, but not limited to issuing invoices. Use of corporate chops and contract chops must be approved by our legal department and administrative department, and use of finance chops must be approved by our finance department. The chops of our subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities are generally held by the relevant entities so that documents can be executed locally. Although we usually utilize chops to execute contracts, the registered legal representatives of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities have the apparent authority to enter into contracts on behalf of such entities without chops. All designated legal representatives of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities are members of our or the respective entity’s senior management who have signed employment agreements with us under which they agree to abide by duties they owe to us.
In order to maintain the physical security of our chops, we generally have them stored in secured locations accessible only to the department heads of the legal, administrative or finance departments. Our designated legal representatives generally do not have access to the chops. Although we monitor our employees, including the designated legal representatives of our PRC subsidiaries and our consolidated affiliated entities, the procedures may not be sufficient to prevent all instances of abuse or negligence. There is a risk that our employees or designated legal representatives could abuse their authority, for example, by binding the relevant subsidiary or consolidated affiliated entity with contracts against our interests, as we would be obligated to honor these contracts if the other contracting party acts in good faith in reliance on the apparent authority of our chops or signatures of our legal representatives. If any designated legal representative obtains control of the chop in an effort to obtain control over the relevant entity, we would need to have a shareholder or board resolution to designate a new legal representative and to take legal action to seek the return of the chop, apply for a new chop with the relevant authorities, or otherwise seek legal remedies for the legal representative’s misconduct. If any of the designated legal representatives obtains and misuses or misappropriates our chops and seals or other controlling intangible assets for whatever reason, we could experience disruption to our normal business operations. We may have to take corporate or legal action, which could involve significant time and resources to resolve while distracting management from our operations.
Our ability to operate private schools may be subject to significant limitations or may otherwise be materially and adversely affected by changes in PRC laws and regulations.
The principal regulations governing private education in China are the Law for Promoting Private Education, or the Private Education Law, and the Implementation Rules for the Law for Promoting Private Education, or the Implementation Rules.
Before September 1, 2017, under the Private Education Law and its Implementation Rules, a private school may elect to be a school that does not require reasonable returns or a school that requires reasonable returns. At the end of each fiscal year, every private school is required to allocate a certain amount to its development fund for the construction or maintenance of the school or procurement or upgrade of educational equipment. In the case of a private school that requires reasonable returns, this amount shall be no less than 25% of annual net income of the school, while in the case of a private school that does not require reasonable returns, this amount shall be no less than 25% of the annual increase in the net assets of the school, if any.
 
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On November 7, 2016, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress amended the Private Education Law, or the Amended Private Education Law, which took effect on September 1, 2017. Under the Amended Private Education Law, the term “reasonable return” is no longer used, and sponsors of private schools may choose to establish
non-profit
or
for-profit
private schools at their own discretion, except that private schools in compulsory education area can only be registered as
non-profit
private schools. Sponsors of
for-profit
private schools are entitled to retain the profits from their schools and the operating surplus may be allocated to the sponsors pursuant to the PRC Company Law and other relevant laws and regulations. Sponsors of
non-profit
private schools are not entitled to any distribution of profits from their schools and the entire income must be used for the operations of the schools. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Regulations on Private Education—The Law for Promoting Private Education and Its Implementation Rules.” Other than certain of our kindergartens, and our compulsory-education schools that are required to be
non-profit
schools under the Amended Private Education law, we intend to register all of our schools as
for-profit
private schools to the extent practicable under the relevant local rules and regulations.
However, as of the date of this annual report, only certain local governments have promulgated specific measures for registration of
pre-existing
private schools. Furthermore, even for those places where specific measures for registration of
pre-existing
private schools have been promulgated, some local government authorities in practice have not started to accept application for registration of
pre-existing
private schools as
for-profit
schools. Therefore, we cannot assure you that our
pre-existing
private schools can all apply for and complete registration as
for-profit
schools in a timely manner, or at all. Also, as measures for registration of
pre-existing
private schools in many provinces are yet to be introduced, we also cannot assure you whether there will be other risks associated with such registration.
On August 10, 2018, the Ministry of Justice published for public comments the Draft Amended Implementation Rules. As of the date of this annual report, the Draft Amended Implementation Rules is still pending for approval and not promulgated as an effective regulation. The Draft Amended Implementation Rules, if promulgated, as an effective regulations, will have certain impacts on our existing business operations, including:
 
   
Private schools that provide
pre-school
education and formal education, will be subject to approval by the government’s education department at county level or above using standards applicable to public schools of the same grade and category. Private training schools that provide after-school tutoring services for kindergarten kids or primary, middle and high school students will be subject to approval and strict supervision by the government’s education department at or above county level. Pursuant to the foregoing, except for our kindergartens, private primary and secondary schools in Yangzhou and Beijing and our private training schools that provide after-school tutoring services, all of our other existing schools would not be required to obtain approval from the government’s education department.
 
   
Except that private schools providing online formal education need to apply for private school operating permit, private schools providing online training and educational services, or technology companies providing any online platform or system supporting such online training and educations, will only need to obtain relevant internet operation permits and complete record-filing with the government’s education department or the government’s human resources and social security department at provincial level. None of our schools provide online formal education. The operating entity of our online education holds a license for Internet information services, or ICP license.
In addition, the Draft Amended Implementation Rules prohibit any entities implementing group-based education from gaining control over
non-profit
schools through mergers and acquisitions, franchise chains, and control agreements. Any agreements between a
non-profit
private school and its connected party that involve major interests or will be repeatedly performed in a long-term shall be reviewed and audited by relevant government authorities in the aspect of necessity, legitimacy and compliance and shall be
arm’s-length
transactions.
Further, the PRC government authorities have recently issued several regulations aiming to strength its regulation of after-school training institutions. These regulations and implementation rules provide a series of requirements in the operation of after-school tutoring business, which include, among others: (1) key course information, including subjects, course schedules and course syllabi, for school academic subjects courses, shall be filed with the local education administration authorities and made publicly available, and the progress of the courses shall not surpass the progress of local primary schools and secondary schools for the same period; (2) training classes shall not be scheduled in conflict with the regular schooling time in local primary schools and secondary schools; (3) tutoring activities shall end before 8:30 p.m.; (4) homework shall not be assigned; (5) scored examination, competition or ranking in connection with the courses of primary schools or secondary schools shall not be arranged; (6) tuition fees for a period spanning more than three months should not be collected at one time; (7) no fees, other than those that have been made public, and no compulsory fund-raising in any name, may be made to students; (8) student safety insurance shall be purchased by the after-school tutoring institutions; (9) teaching staff who teach Chinese, mathematics, foreign language, physics, chemistry and other subjects in the compulsory education system as well as academic subjects related to the entering of higher education and their extension training shall have requisite teacher qualifications; and (10) public school teachers shall not be employed by after-school tutoring institutions. In addition, the PRC government authorities have issued regulations on online after-school tutoring activities that restate certain requirements that apply to all after-school tutoring institutions and further provide certain specific requirements for online after-school tutoring institutions. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation” for more information. We are continuously making efforts to comply with the requirements under these regulations and implementations. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to comply with such requirements in a timely manner, or at all. If we fail to comply with these requirements and any other applicable regulatory requirements, we may be subject to fines, regulatory orders to suspend our operations or other regulatory and disciplinary sanctions, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
 
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In November 2018, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Preschool Opinions. In January 2019, the General Office of the State Council issued the Circular on Initiating the Rectification. It is uncertain as to how the Preschool Opinions and the Circular on Initiating the Rectification will be interpreted and implemented. To the extent that we are not able to fully comply with these requirements, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected. See “—If the PRC government finds that the agreements that establish the structure for operating some of our China business do not comply with applicable PRC laws and regulations relating to the relevant industries, or if these regulations or the interpretation of existing regulations change in the future, we could be subject to severe penalties or be forced to relinquish our interests in those operations.”
In addition, under PRC laws and regulations, arrangements and transactions among related parties may be subject to audit or challenge by the PRC tax authorities. The contractual arrangements with our consolidated affiliated entities may be subject to scrutiny by the PRC tax authorities, and a finding that we owe additional taxes could substantially reduce our consolidated net income and the value of your investment. We could face material and adverse tax consequences if the PRC tax authorities determine that the contractual arrangements among our subsidiaries in China and our consolidated affiliated entities, do not represent an
arm’s-length
price and adjust our consolidated affiliated entities’ income in the form of a transfer pricing adjustment. A transfer pricing adjustment could, among other things, result in a reduction, for PRC tax purposes, of expense deductions recorded by our consolidated affiliated entities, which could in turn increase their tax liabilities. In addition, the PRC tax authorities may impose late payment fees and other penalties to our consolidated affiliated entities for under-paid taxes. Our consolidated net income may be materially and adversely affected if our tax liabilities increase or if we are found to be subject to late payment fees or other penalties.
Regulatory agencies may commence investigations of the private primary and secondary schools controlled and operated by New Oriental China. If the results of the investigations are unfavorable to us, we may be subject to fines, penalties, injunctions or other censure that could have an adverse impact on our results of operations.
PRC laws and regulations currently prohibit foreign ownership of primary and middle schools for students in grades one to nine in China, and restrict foreign ownership of high schools for students in grades ten to twelve. New Oriental China controls and operates a private primary and secondary school in Yangzhou and a private secondary school in Beijing. As the provision of private primary and middle school services is a heavily regulated industry in China, our existing and any new primary or middle schools we establish or acquire in the future may be subject from time to time to investigations, claims of
non-compliance
or lawsuits by governmental agencies, which may allege statutory violations, regulatory infractions or other causes of action. If the results of the investigations are unfavorable to us, we may be subject to fines, injunctions or other penalties that could have an adverse impact on our results of operations. Even if we adequately address the issues raised by a government investigation, we may have to devote significant financial and management resources to resolve these issues, which could harm our business.
We may rely on dividends and other distributions on equity paid by our wholly-owned subsidiaries to fund any cash and financing requirements we may have, and any limitation on the ability of our subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to make payments to us could have a material adverse effect on our ability to conduct our business.
 
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We are a holding company, and we may rely on dividends from our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China and service, license and other fees paid to our
wholly-owned
subsidiaries by New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries for our cash requirements, including any debt we may incur. Current PRC regulations permit our subsidiaries to pay dividends to us only out of their accumulated profits, if any, determined in accordance with Chinese accounting standards and regulations. In addition, each of our subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its subsidiaries in China is required to set aside at least 10% of its
after-tax
profits each year, if any, to fund a statutory reserve until such reserve reaches 50% of its registered capital, and each of our subsidiaries is required to further set aside a portion of its
after-tax
profits to fund the employee welfare fund at the discretion of its board of directors. These reserves are not distributable as cash dividends. Furthermore, if our subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries in China incur debt on their own behalf in the future, the instruments governing the debt may restrict their ability to pay dividends or make other payments to us. In addition, the PRC tax authorities may require us to adjust our taxable income under the contractual arrangements we currently have in place in a manner that would materially and adversely affect our subsidiaries’ ability to pay dividends and other distributions to us. Moreover, at the end of each fiscal year, every private school in China is required to allocate a certain amount to its development fund for the construction or maintenance of the school or procurement or upgrade of educational equipment. In the case of a private school that requires reasonable returns, this amount shall be no less than 25% of the annual net income of the school, while in the case of a private school that does not require reasonable returns, this amount shall be equivalent to no less than 25% of the annual increase in the net assets of the school, if any. Any limitation on the ability of our subsidiaries to distribute dividends to us or on the ability of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to make payments to us could materially and adversely limit our ability to grow, make investments or acquisitions that could be beneficial to our businesses, pay dividends, or otherwise fund and conduct our business.
PRC regulation of loans to, and direct investment in, PRC entities by offshore holding companies and governmental control of currency conversion may restrict or prevent us from making loans to our PRC subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries or making additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries, which could materially and adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.
We are an offshore holding company conducting our operations in China through our PRC subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries. We may need to make loans to our PRC subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries, or we may make additional capital contributions to our PRC subsidiaries.
Any loans to our PRC subsidiaries or New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries are subject to PRC regulations. For example, loans by us to our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, each of which is a foreign-invested enterprise, to finance their activities cannot exceed statutory limits and must be registered with the PRC State Administration of Foreign Exchange, or SAFE, or its local counterparts. Loans by us to New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries, which are domestic PRC entities, must be approved by the relevant government authorities and must also be registered with SAFE or its local counterparts.
We may also decide to finance our PRC subsidiaries by means of capital contributions. These capital contributions must be filing and reporting to the PRC Ministry of Commerce or its local counterparts. We are unlikely, however, to finance the activities of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries by means of capital contributions due to regulatory issues related to foreign investment in domestic PRC entities, as well as the licensing and other regulatory issues. SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming the Administration of Foreign Exchange Settlement of Capital of Foreign-invested Enterprises, or SAFE Circular 19, effective in June 2015, in replacement of former regulations. According to SAFE Circular 19, the flow and use of the RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company is regulated such that RMB capital may not be used for the issuance of RMB entrusted loans, the repayment of inter-enterprise loans or the repayment of bank loans that have been transferred to a third-party. Although SAFE Circular 19 allows RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested enterprise to be used for equity investments within China, it also reiterates the principle that RMB converted from the foreign currency-denominated capital of a
foreign-invested
company may not be directly or indirectly used for purposes beyond its business scope. Thus, it is unclear whether in practice SAFE will permit such capital to be used for equity investments in China. SAFE promulgated the Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Reforming and Standardizing the Foreign Exchange Settlement Management Policy of Capital Account, or SAFE Circular 16, effective on June 9, 2016, which reiterates some of the rules set forth in SAFE Circular 19, but changes the limitation on the use of RMB capital converted from foreign currency-denominated registered capital of a foreign-invested company from prohibiting using such capital to issue RMB entrusted loans to prohibiting using such capital to issue loans to
non-associated
enterprises. Violations of SAFE Circular 19 and SAFE Circular 16 could result in administrative penalties. SAFE Circular 19 and SAFE Circular 16 may significantly limit our ability to transfer any foreign currency we hold to our PRC subsidiary, which may adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business in China. On October 23, 2019, SAFE promulgated the Notice for Further Advancing the Facilitation of Cross-border Trade and Investment, or the SAFE Circular 28, which, among other things, allows all foreign-invested companies to use RMB converted from foreign currency-denominated capital for equity investments in China, for so long as there is a truthful equity investment, and such equity investment does not violate applicable laws and complies with the negative list on foreign investment.
See also “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation.”
 
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We expect that PRC laws and regulations may continue to limit our use of proceeds from offshore offerings. There are no costs associated with registering loans or capital contributions with relevant PRC government authorities, other than nominal processing charges. We cannot assure you that we will be able to obtain these government registrations or approvals on a timely basis, if at all. If we fail to receive such registrations or approvals, our ability to capitalize our PRC operations may be negatively affected, which could adversely affect our liquidity and our ability to fund and expand our business.
If any of New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries becomes the subject of a bankruptcy or liquidation proceeding, we may lose the ability to use and enjoy their assets, which could reduce the size of our operations and materially and adversely affect our business, ability to generate revenue and the market price of our ADSs.
To comply with PRC laws and regulations relating to foreign ownership restrictions in the education business, we currently conduct substantially all of our operations in China through contractual arrangements with New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries as well as its shareholder. As part of these arrangements, New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries hold assets that are important to the operation of our business.
We do not have priority pledges and liens against New Oriental China’s assets. As a contractual and property right matter, this lack of priority pledges and liens has remote risks. If New Oriental China undergoes an involuntary liquidation proceeding, third-party creditors may claim rights to some or all of its assets and we may not have priority against such third-party creditors on New Oriental China’s assets. If New Oriental China liquidates, we may take part in the liquidation procedures as a general creditor under the PRC Enterprise Bankruptcy Law and recover any outstanding liabilities owed by New Oriental China to our PRC subsidiaries under the applicable service agreements. To ameliorate the risks of an involuntary liquidation proceeding initiated by a third-party creditor, we closely monitor the operations and finances of New Oriental China through carefully designed budgetary and internal controls to ensure that New Oriental China is well capitalized and is highly unlikely to trigger any third party monetary claims in excess of its assets and cash resources. Furthermore, our PRC subsidiaries have the ability, if necessary, to inject capital in Renminbi into New Oriental China to prevent such an involuntary liquidation.
If the shareholder of New Oriental China were to attempt to voluntarily liquidate New Oriental China without obtaining our prior consent, we could effectively prevent such unauthorized voluntary liquidation by exercising our right to request New Oriental China’s shareholder to transfer all of its equity ownership interest to a PRC entity or individual designated by us in accordance with the option agreement with the New Oriental China shareholder. In addition, under the equity pledge agreements signed by the shareholder of New Oriental China and the PRC Property Law, the shareholder of New Oriental China does not have the right to issue dividends to itself or otherwise distribute the retained earnings or other assets of New Oriental China without our consent. Also, under the proxy agreement and power of attorney, the shareholder of New Oriental China undertakes to Beijing Pioneer, our wholly-owned PRC subsidiary, that if it receives, among other things, any dividends, residual assets upon liquidation or proceeds from the transfer of its equity interest in New Oriental China, it will, to the extent permitted under applicable law, remit all such dividends, residual assets and proceeds to Beijing Pioneer without any compensation or other consideration. In the event that the shareholder of New Oriental China initiates a voluntary liquidation proceeding without our authorization or attempts to distribute the retained earnings or assets of New Oriental China without our prior consent, we may need to resort to legal proceedings to enforce the terms of the contractual agreements. Any such litigation may be costly and may divert our management’s time and attention away from the operation of our business, and the outcome of such litigation would be uncertain.
 
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Risks Related to Doing Business in China
Changes in China’s economic, political or social conditions or government policies could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial conditions and results of operations.
Substantially all of our business operations are conducted in China. Accordingly, our results of operations, financial condition and prospects are subject to a significant degree by political, economic and social conditions in China generally and by continued economic growth in China as a whole.
The Chinese economy differs from the economies of most developed countries in many respects, including the amount of government involvement, level of development, growth rate, control of foreign exchange and allocation of resources. Although the Chinese government has implemented measures emphasizing the utilization of market forces for economic reform, the reduction of state ownership of productive assets and the establishment of improved corporate governance in business enterprises, a substantial portion of productive assets in China are still owned by the government. In addition, the Chinese government continues to play a significant role in regulating industry development by imposing industrial policies. The Chinese government also exercises significant control over China’s economic growth through allocating resources, controlling payment of foreign currency-denominated obligations, setting monetary policy and providing preferential treatment to particular industries or companies.
While the Chinese economy has experienced significant growth over the past decades, growth has been uneven, both geographically and among various sectors of the economy. The Chinese government has implemented various measures to encourage economic growth and guide the allocation of resources. Some of these measures may benefit the overall Chinese economy, but may have a negative effect on us. For example, our financial condition and results of operations may be adversely affected by government control over capital investments or changes in tax regulations. The growth rate of the Chinese economy has gradually slowed since 2010, and the impact of
COVID-19
on the Chinese economy in 2020 is likely to be severe. Any prolonged slowdown in the Chinese economy may reduce the demand for our products and services and materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
Our business, financial condition and results of operations, as well as our ability to obtain financing, may be adversely affected by the downturn in the global or PRC economy.
COVID-19
had a severe and negative impact on the Chinese and the global economy in the first half of 2020. Whether this will lead to a prolonged downturn in the economy is still unknown. Even before the outbreak of the
COVID-19,
the global macroeconomic environment was facing numerous challenges. The growth of the Chinese economy had already been slowing since 2010. There is considerable uncertainty over the long-term effects of the expansionary monetary and fiscal policies which had been adopted by the central banks and financial authorities of some of the world’s leading economies, including the United States and China, even before 2020. Unrest, terrorist threats and the potential for war in the Middle East and elsewhere may increase market volatility across the globe. There have also been concerns about the relationship between China and other countries, including the surrounding Asian countries, which may potentially have economic effects. In particular, there is significant uncertainty about the future relationship between the United States and China with respect to trade policies, treaties, government regulations and tariffs. Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions, as well as changes in domestic economic and political policies and the expected or perceived overall economic growth rate in China.
Economic conditions in China are sensitive to global economic conditions and also have their own challenges, and our business, results of operations and financial condition are sensitive to PRC and global economic conditions. Any prolonged slowdown in the PRC or global economy may have a negative impact on our business, results of operations and financial condition, and continued turbulence in the international markets may adversely affect our ability to access the capital markets to meet liquidity needs.
 
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Uncertainties with respect to the PRC legal system could adversely affect us.
Our operations in China are governed by PRC laws and regulations. Our subsidiaries are generally subject to laws and regulations applicable to foreign investments in China and, in particular, laws applicable to wholly foreign-owned enterprises. The PRC legal system is based on written statutes. Prior court decisions may be cited for reference but have limited precedential value. China has not developed a fully integrated legal system and recently enacted laws and regulations may not sufficiently cover all aspects of economic activities in China. In particular, because many of these laws and regulations are relatively new, and because of the limited volume of published decisions and their nonbinding nature, the interpretation and enforcement of these laws and regulations involve uncertainties. In addition, the PRC legal system is based in part on government policies and internal rules and interpretations (some of which are not published on a timely basis or at all) that may have a retroactive effect. As a result, we may not be aware of our violation of these policies, rules and interpretations until sometime after the violation. In addition, any litigation in China may be protracted and may result in substantial costs and diversion of resources and management attention from the operation of our business.
Uncertainties exist with respect to the interpretation and implementation of the Foreign Investment Law and how it may impact the viability of our current corporate structure, corporate governance, business, financial condition and results of operations.
On March 15, 2019, the National People’s Congress promulgated the Foreign Investment Law, which came into effect on January 1, 2020 and replaced the Sino-foreign Equity Joint Venture Enterprise Law, the Sino-foreign Cooperative Joint Venture Enterprise Law and the Wholly Foreign-invested Enterprise Law, together with their implementation rules and ancillary regulations.
As it is relatively new, uncertainties still exist in relation to its interpretation and implementation, and failure to take timely and appropriate measures to comply with the Foreign Investment Law and relevant rules could result in material and adverse effects on us. For instance, although the Foreign Investment Law does not explicitly classify contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment, it contains a
catch-all
provision under the definition of “foreign investment,” which includes investments made by foreign investors in China through means stipulated by laws or administrative regulations or other methods prescribed by the State Council. Therefore, it still leaves leeway for future laws, administrative regulations or provisions to be promulgated by the State Council to provide for contractual arrangements as a form of foreign investment, at which time it will be uncertain whether our contractual arrangements will be deemed to be in violation of the market access requirements for foreign investment in the PRC and, if so, how our contractual arrangements will be dealt with. In addition, if future laws, administrative regulations or provisions to be prescribed by the State Council mandate further actions to be taken by companies with respect to existing contractual arrangements, we may face substantial uncertainties as to whether we can complete such actions in a timely manner, or at all. In the worst case scenario, we may be required to unwind our existing contractual arrangements and/or dispose of the relevant business operations, which could have a material and adverse effect on our current corporate structure, corporate governance, business, financial condition and results of operations.
Regulation and censorship of information disseminated over the internet in China may adversely affect our business and reputation and subject us to liability for information displayed on our websites.
The PRC government has adopted regulations governing internet access and the distribution of news and other information over the internet. Under these regulations, internet content providers and internet publishers are prohibited from posting or displaying over the internet content that, among other things, violates PRC laws and regulations, impairs the national dignity of China, or is reactionary, obscene, superstitious, fraudulent or defamatory. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in the revocation of licenses to provide internet content and other relevant licenses, and the closure of the concerned websites. In the past, failure to comply with such requirements has resulted in the closure of certain websites. The website operator may also be held liable for such censored information displayed on or linked to the websites. If any of our websites, including those used for our online education business, are found to be in violation of any such requirements, we may be penalized by relevant authorities, and our operations or reputation could be adversely affected.
We are required to obtain various operating licenses and permits and to make registrations and filings for our business operations in China; failure to comply with these requirements may materially adversely affect our business and results of operations.
 
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Under PRC laws and regulations, training schools are required to obtain a number of licenses, permits and approvals from, and make filings or complete registrations with, relevant government authorities in order to provide tutoring services. Pursuant to the Amended Private Education Law and the Draft Amended Implementation Rules, training schools, in particular those providing
K-12
after school tutoring services, shall obtain the private school operation permit. The State Council Circular 80 further requires the learning centers of a training school providing
K-12
after school tutoring services to make filings with the relevant education authorities. Our business is also subject to various health, safety and other regulations that affect various aspects of our business and we must obtain various licenses and permits under these regulations for our operations. We have been making efforts to ensure compliance with applicable rules and regulations in all material respects. In addition, we follow internal guidelines to make necessary registrations and filings and obtain necessary licenses and permits on a timely basis. However, we may not be able to obtain and maintain all requisite licenses, permits, approvals and filings or pass all requisite assessments. There is also no assurance that such permits will be renewed on a timely basis, or at all. If we fail to comply with applicable legal requirements, we may be subject to fines, confiscation of the gains derived from our noncompliant operations or the suspension of our noncompliant operations, which may materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.
PRC regulations relating to the establishment of offshore special purpose companies by PRC residents may subject our PRC resident shareholders to personal liability and limit our ability to inject capital into our PRC subsidiaries, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute profits to us or otherwise adversely affect us.
SAFE issued a notice in July 2014, which replaced the previous notice issued in October 2005. The 2014 SAFE notice requires PRC domestic residents, including both PRC domestic institutions and PRC domestic individual residents, to register with the local SAFE branch, currently with local bank according to Notice of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on Further Simplifying and Improving Policies for the Foreign Exchange Administration of Direct Investment issued by SAFE on February 13, 2015, before establishing or controlling any company outside of China with the domestic or overseas assets or equity they legally hold for the purpose of investment, financing or conducting roundtrip investment. Such a company located outside of China is referred to in the notice as an “offshore special purpose company.” Our beneficial owners immediately before our initial public offering who are PRC residents had registered with the local branch of SAFE prior to our initial public offering in 2006. The failure of these beneficial owners to timely amend their SAFE registrations, if required, or the failure of future beneficial owners of our company who are PRC residents to comply with the registration procedures set forth in the SAFE notice may subject such beneficial owners to fines and legal sanctions and may also limit our ability to contribute additional capital into our PRC subsidiaries, limit our PRC subsidiaries’ ability to distribute dividends or repay loans in foreign exchange to our company or otherwise adversely affect our business.
We face regulatory uncertainties in China concerning our employees’ participation in our share incentive plan.
In February 2012, SAFE issued the Notices on Issues Concerning the Foreign Exchange Administration for Domestic Individuals Participating in a Stock Incentive Plan of an Overseas Publicly-Listed Company, or Circular 7. According to Circular 7, if “PRC individuals” (meaning both PRC residents and
non-PRC
residents who reside in the PRC for a continuous period of not less than one year, excluding the foreign diplomatic personnel and representatives of international organizations) participate in any share incentive plan of an overseas listed company, a qualified PRC domestic agent, which could be the PRC subsidiaries of such overseas listed company, shall, among other things, file, on behalf of such individuals, an application with SAFE to conduct the SAFE registration with respect to such share incentive plan, and obtain approval for an annual allowance with respect to the purchase of foreign exchange in connection with the share purchase or share option exercise. Such PRC individuals’ foreign exchange income received from the sale of shares and dividends distributed by the overseas listed company and any other income shall be fully remitted into a collective foreign currency account in the PRC opened and managed by the PRC domestic agent before distribution to such individuals. In addition, such PRC individuals must also retain an overseas entrusted institution to handle matters in connection with the exercise of their share options and their purchase and sale of shares.
According to Circular 7, from time to time, we need to make applications or update our registration with SAFE or its local branches on behalf of our employees who are affected by our new share incentive plan or material changes in our current share incentive plan. We are in the process of making an application on behalf of the PRC individuals who participate in our company’s share incentive plans with SAFE in compliance with Circular 7; however, we cannot assure you that such application will be successful. If we or the participants of our share incentive plans who are PRC citizens fail to comply with Circular 7, we and/or such participants of our share incentive plans may be subject to fines and legal sanctions. In addition, there may be additional restrictions on the ability of such participants to exercise their stock options or remit proceeds gained from sale of their stock into China, and we may be prevented from further granting share incentive awards under our share incentive plans to our employees who are PRC citizens. Such events could adversely affect our ability to retain talented employees.
 
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The M&A rules establish complex procedures for some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors, and the NDRC Circular 11 establish certain procedures for our offshore investing activities, which could make it more difficult for us to pursue growth through acquisitions in and outside China.
In August 2006, the Ministry of Commerce, the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the State Administration of Taxation, or the SAT, the State Administration for Market Regulation, the China Securities Regulatory Commission, or the CSRC, and SAFE, jointly adopted the Regulations on Mergers and Acquisitions of Domestic Enterprises by Foreign Investors, commonly referred to as the M&A Rules, which was amended on June 22, 2009. The M&A Rules establish procedures and requirements that could make some acquisitions of Chinese companies by foreign investors more time-consuming and complex, including requirements in some instances that the Ministry of Commerce be notified in advance of any
change-of-control
transaction in which a foreign investor takes control of a Chinese domestic enterprise. We may expand our business in part by acquiring complementary businesses. Complying with the requirements of the M&A Rules to complete such transactions could be time-consuming, and any required approval processes, including obtaining approval from the Ministry of Commerce, may delay or inhibit our ability to complete such transactions, which could affect our ability to expand our business or maintain our market share.
Further, pursuant to the Circular 11 issued by the NDRC, outbound investment via the overseas enterprises controlled by PRC residents are subject to verification and approval, record-filing and reporting requirements to the NDRC. According to Circular 11, sensitive projects, such as outbound investment in real estate, hotels, news media, cinemas or sports club, carried out by overseas enterprises controlled by PRC residents shall obtain verification and approval from the NDRC prior to the implementation of the project. The
non-sensitive
projects carried out by the overseas enterprise directly controlled by PRC residents, including by means of making asset or equity investment by companies established for financing and investing, such as fund institutions, or providing financing or guarantee, shall complete
record-filing
with the competent authority prior to the implementation of such project. The
non-sensitive
projects carried out by the overseas enterprise indirectly controlled by PRC residents with the investment amount over USD300 million shall be reported to the NDRC of relevant information by submitting an information reporting form for large-amount
non-sensitive
projects. See “Item 4. Information on the Company—B. Business Overview—Regulation—Administrative Measures for Outbound Investment by Enterprises” for more details on Circular 11. If we fail to comply with rules in Circular 11, we may be subject to warnings, project to be suspended for implementation or rectification within a specified time limit.
Increases in labor costs and enforcement of labor laws and regulations in the PRC may adversely affect our business, profitability and results of operations.
The economy of China has been experiencing increases in labor costs in recent years and the average wage in the PRC is expected to continue to grow. The average wage level for our employees has also increased in recent years. We expect that our labor costs, including wages and employee benefits, will continue to increase. Unless we are able to pass on these increased labor costs to our students by increasing prices for our services, our profitability and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
In addition, we are required under PRC laws and regulations to participate in various government sponsored employee benefit plans, including certain social insurance and housing funds, and contribute to the plans in amounts equal to certain percentages of salaries, including bonuses and allowances, of our employees up to a maximum amount specified by the local government from time to time at locations where we operate our businesses. We have required all of our PRC operating entities to participate in employee benefit plans and make employee benefit payments for our employees pursuant to applicable laws and regulations. As of the date of this annual report, we have not received any incompliance notification from any local government regarding employee benefit payments, nor have we been sanctioned for such matters. However, we cannot assure you that we will be able to make adequate employee benefit payments for every employee in a timely manner. If we fail to make adequate employee benefit payments, we may be subject to fines, late fees and legal sanctions, and our business, financial conditions and results of operations may be adversely affected.
 
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Governmental control of currency conversion may affect the value of your investment.
The PRC government imposes controls on the convertibility between the RMB and foreign currencies and, in certain cases, the remittance of currency out of China. We receive substantially all of our revenues in RMB. Under our current corporate structure, our income at the holding company level may be primarily derived from dividend payments from our PRC subsidiaries. Shortages in the availability of foreign currency may restrict the ability of our PRC subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries to remit sufficient foreign currency to pay dividends or other payments to us, or otherwise satisfy their foreign currency denominated obligations. Under existing PRC foreign exchange regulations, payments of current account items, including profit distributions, interest payments and expenditures from trade-related transactions, can be made in foreign currencies without prior approval from SAFE by complying with certain procedural requirements. However, approval from appropriate government authorities is required where RMB is to be converted into foreign currency and remitted out of China to pay capital expenses such as direct investments, repayments of loans or investments in securities outside the PRC. The PRC government may also at its discretion restrict access in the future to foreign currencies for current account transactions. If the foreign exchange control system prevents us from obtaining sufficient foreign currency to satisfy our currency demands, we may not be able to pay dividends in foreign currencies to our shareholders, including holders of our ADSs.
Fluctuation in the value of the RMB may have a material adverse effect on your investment.
The conversion of Renminbi into foreign currencies, including U.S. dollars, is based on rates set by the People’s Bank of China. The Renminbi has fluctuated against the U.S. dollar, at times significantly and unpredictably. The value of Renminbi against the U.S. dollar and other currencies is affected by changes in China’s political and economic conditions and by China’s foreign exchange policies, among other things. We cannot assure you that Renminbi will not appreciate or depreciate significantly in value against the U.S. dollar in the future. It is difficult to predict how market forces or PRC or U.S. government policy may impact the exchange rate between Renminbi and the U.S. dollar in the future.
Our revenues and costs are mostly denominated in the RMB, and a significant portion of our financial assets are also denominated in RMB. We may rely entirely on dividends and other fees paid to us by our subsidiaries and New Oriental China and its schools and subsidiaries in China. Any significant appreciation or depreciation of Renminbi may materially and adversely affect our revenues, earnings and financial position, and the value of, and any dividends payable on, our ADSs. For example, a further appreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar would make any new
RMB-denominated
investments or expenditures more costly to us, to the extent that we need to convert U.S. dollars into the RMB for such purposes. Conversely, a significant depreciation of the RMB against the U.S. dollar may significantly reduce our reported earnings in U.S. dollars, which in turn could adversely affect the price of our ADSs.
Very limited hedging options are available in China to reduce our exposure to exchange rate fluctuations. To date, we have not entered into any hedging transactions in an effort to reduce our exposure to foreign currency exchange risk. While we may decide to enter into hedging transactions in the future, the availability and effectiveness of these hedges may be limited and we may not be able to adequately hedge our exposure or at all. In addition, our currency exchange losses may be magnified by PRC exchange control regulations that restrict our ability to convert Renminbi into foreign currency. As a result, fluctuations in exchange rates may have a material adverse effect on your investment.
The discontinuation of any preferential tax treatments currently available to us could materially and adversely affect our results of operations.
In March 2007, the National People’s Congress passed the Enterprise Income Tax Law, or the EIT Law, which took effect in January 2008 and was most recently amended in December 2018. The EIT Law applies a uniform 25% enterprise income tax rate to both foreign-invested enterprises and domestic enterprises. The EIT Law provides that preferential tax treatments will be granted to industries and projects that are strongly supported and encouraged by the state, and that enterprises otherwise classified as “high and new technology enterprises strongly supported by the state” will be entitled to a preferential enterprise income tax rate. The implementation rules of the EIT Law promulgated by the State Council in December 2007, which was amended in April 2019, and other supplemental rules promulgated by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Finance and the SAT, in April 2008 and July 2008 which were amended in January 2016 and June 2016, respectively, have stipulated new criteria for such “high and new technology enterprises,” and all enterprises which had been granted such status before the effectiveness of the EIT Law are required to be
re-examined
according to such new rules before they can continue to be entitled to such preferential tax treatments.
 
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A “high and new technology enterprise” is entitled to a favorable enterprise income tax rate of 15% and such qualification is reassessed by relevant governmental authorities every three years. Five of our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, including Beijing Pioneer Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Pioneer, Beijing Smart Wood Co., Ltd., or Beijing Smart Wood and three other subsidiaries, are qualified as “high and new technology enterprises.” Beijing Hewstone Technology Co., Ltd., or Beijing Hewstone, Beijing Decision Education & Consulting Co., Ltd., or Beijing Decision and other two wholly owned subsidiaries in China, are in the process of renewing their qualification of “high and new technology enterprises.” Once the renewals are completed, these subsidiaries will be eligible for a favorable enterprise income tax rate of 15% starting from January 1, 2020. Beijing New Oriental Dogwood Cultural Communications Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of our variable interest entity New Oriental China, and Kuxue Huisi Network Technology Co., Ltd, a subsidiary of our variable interest entity Beijing Xuncheng, are also qualified as “high and new technology enterprises.” Beijing Xuncheng, our variable interest entity, is also in the process of renewing its qualification of “high and new technology enterprises.” Once the renewal is completed, Beijing Xuncheng will be eligible for a favorable enterprise income tax rate of 15% starting from January 1, 2020. An enterprise that qualifies as a “software enterprise” is exempt from enterprise income tax for the two years beginning in the enterprise’s first profitable year and then is entitled to a reduced tax rate of 12.5% for the succeeding three years. Four of our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China, Beijing Jinghong Software Technology Company Limited or Beijing Jinghong, Beijing Zhiyuan Hangcheng Technology Company Limited or Beijing Zhiyuan Hangcheng, and other two subsidiaries are qualified as “software enterprises.” See “Item 5. Operating and Financial Review and Prospects—A. Operating Results—Taxation—PRC.”
Before September 1, 2017, under the Private Education Law and its Implementation Rules, private schools that do not require reasonable returns enjoy the same preferential tax treatment as public schools, while the preferential tax treatment policies applicable to private schools requiring reasonable returns shall be separately formulated by the relevant authorities under the State Council. To date, no regulations have been promulgated by the relevant authorities with regard to the preferential income tax treatment applicable to private schools requiring reasonable returns. As of May 31, 2020, 18 of our schools elected as schools not requiring reasonable returns, 39 of our schools elected as schools requiring reasonable returns and the remaining schools were not classified or registered as companies.
The Amended Private Education Law, which became effective on September 1, 2017 and was further amended on December 29, 2018, no longer uses the term “reasonable return.” Instead, under the Amended Private Education Law, sponsors of private schools may choose to establish
non-profit
or
for-profit
private schools at their own discretion, except that private schools in compulsory education area can only be registered as
non-profit
private schools. Pursuant to the Amended Private Education Law,
non-profit
private schools will be entitled to the same tax benefits as public schools, while tax policies for
for-profit
private schools are unclear and may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% and other taxes as if they were enterprises. As of the date of this annual report, the Draft Implementation Rules for the Amended Private Education Law is still pending for approval by the State Council. Other than certain of our kindergartens, and our compulsory-education schools that are required to be
non-profit
schools, we intend to register all of our schools as
for-profit
private schools to the extent practicable under the relevant local rules and regulations.
Currently, tax treatments for private schools vary across different cities in China. Private schools in certain cities are subject to a 25% standard enterprise income tax, while in other cities, private schools are subject to a fixed amount of enterprise income tax each year as determined by the local tax authority in lieu of the 25% standard enterprise income tax or are not required to pay enterprise income tax at all.
For the year ended May 31, 2020, 93 of our schools were subject to a 25% income tax rate. The effective income tax rates were 16.64%, 26.96% and 27.46% in the fiscal years ended May 31, 2018, 2019 and 2020, respectively.
Preferential tax treatments granted to us by governmental authorities are subject to review and may be adjusted or revoked at any time in the future. The discontinuation of any preferential tax treatments currently available to us, especially to those schools in major cities, will cause our effective tax rate to increase, which will increase our income tax expenses and in turn decrease our net income.
 
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We may be treated as a resident enterprise for PRC tax purposes under the EIT Law, which may subject us to PRC income tax for our global income and withholding for any dividends we pay to our
non-PRC
shareholders and ADS holders.
Under the EIT Law, enterprises established outside of China whose “de facto management bodies” are located in China are considered “resident enterprises,” and will generally be subject to the uniform 25% enterprise income tax rate for their global income. Although the term “de facto management bodies” is defined as “management bodies which has substantial and overall management and control power on the operation, human resources, accounting and assets of the enterprise,” the circumstances under which an enterprise’s “de facto management body” would be considered to be located in China are currently unclear. The SAT has issued a circular providing that a foreign enterprise controlled by a PRC company or a PRC company group will be classified as a “resident enterprise” with its “de facto management bodies” located within China if the following requirements are satisfied: (1) the senior management and core management departments in charge of its daily operations function mainly in the PRC; (2) its financial and human resources decisions are subject to determination or approval by persons or bodies in the PRC; (3) its major assets, accounting books, company seals, and minutes and files of its board and shareholders’ meetings are located or kept in the PRC; and (4) at least half of the enterprise’s directors or senior management with voting rights reside in the PRC.
In addition, the SAT issued a bulletin to provide more guidance on the implementation of the above circular. The bulletin clarified certain matters relating to resident status determination, post determination administration and competent tax authorities. It also specifies that when provided with a copy of a PRC tax resident determination certificate from a resident
PRC-controlled
offshore incorporated enterprise, the payer should not withhold 10% income tax when paying the
PRC-sourced
dividends, interest and royalties to the
PRC-controlled
offshore incorporated enterprise. Moreover, the SAT issued a bulletin in January 2014, to provide more guidance on the implementation of the above circular. This bulletin further provided that, among other things, an entity that is classified as a “resident enterprise” in accordance with the circular shall file the application for classifying its status of residential enterprise with the local tax authorities where its main domestic investors registered. From the year in which the entity is determined as a “resident enterprise,” any dividend, profit and other equity investment gain shall be taxed in accordance with the Article 26 of EIT law and the Article 17 and Article 83 of its implementation rules. Although both the circular and the bulletin only apply to offshore enterprises controlled by PRC enterprises and not those by PRC individuals, the determination criteria set forth in the circular and administration clarification made in the bulletin may reflect the SAT’s general position on how the “de facto management body” test should be applied in determining the tax residency status of offshore enterprises and how the administration measures should be implemented, regardless of whether they are controlled by PRC enterprises or PRC individuals.
Most members of our management team are based in China and are expected to remain in China. Although our offshore holding companies are not controlled by any PRC company or company group, we cannot assure you that we will not be deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise under the EIT Law and its implementation rules. If we are deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise, we will be subject to PRC enterprise income tax at the rate of 25% on our global income. In that case, however, dividend income we receive from our PRC subsidiaries may be exempt from PRC enterprise income tax because the EIT Law and its implementation rules generally provide that dividends received by a PRC resident enterprise from its directly invested entity that is also a PRC resident enterprise is exempt from enterprise income tax. Accordingly, if we are deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise and earn income other than dividends from our PRC subsidiaries, a 25% enterprise income tax on our global income could significantly increase our tax burden and materially and adversely affect our cash flow and profitability.
In addition, if we are deemed to be a PRC resident enterprise, dividends distributed to our
non-PRC
entity investors by us, or the gain our
non-PRC
entity investors may realize from the transfer of our common shares or ADSs, may be treated as
PRC-sourced
income and therefore be subject to a 10% PRC withholding tax pursuant to the EIT Law. This could increase our and our shareholders’ effective income tax rates and may require us to deduct withholding tax from any dividends we pay to our
non-PRC
shareholders.
Dividends we receive from our subsidiaries located in the PRC are subject to the PRC withholding tax.
The EIT Law provides that a maximum income tax rate of 20% may apply to dividends payable to
non-PRC
investors that are
“non-resident
enterprises,” to the extent such dividends are derived from sources within the PRC. The State Council has reduced such rate to 10%, in the absence of any applicable tax treaties that may reduce such rate. We are a Cayman Islands holding company and may derive our income from dividends we receive from our operating subsidiaries located in the PRC. If we are required under the EIT Law to pay income tax for any dividends we receive from our PRC subsidiaries, the amount of dividends, if any, we may pay to our shareholders and ADS holders may be materially and adversely affected.
 
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According to the Arrangement between the PRC and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to Taxes on Income, or the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong), which became effective in January 2007, dividends paid to enterprises incorporated in Hong Kong are subject to a withholding tax of 5% provided that a Hong Kong resident enterprise owns over 25% of the PRC enterprise distributing the dividend and can be considered as a “beneficial owner” and entitled to treaty benefits under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong). Elite Concept Holdings Limited, Winner Park Limited and Smart Shine International Limited, our Hong Kong wholly-owned subsidiaries, own 100% of our PRC subsidiaries. Thus, dividends paid by our PRC subsidiaries to us through our Hong Kong wholly-owned subsidiaries may be subject to the 5% withholding tax if we and our Hong Kong subsidiaries are considered as
“non-resident
enterprises” under the EIT Law and our Hong Kong subsidiaries are considered as “beneficial owners” and entitled to treaty benefits under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong). If our Hong Kong subsidiaries are not regarded as the beneficial owners of any such dividends, they will not be entitled to the treaty benefits under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong). As a result, such dividends would be subject to regular withholding tax of 10% as provided by the PRC domestic law rather than the favorable rate of 5% applicable under the Double Taxation Arrangement (Hong Kong).
We face uncertainties with respect to indirect transfers of equity interests in PRC resident enterprises by their
non-PRC
holding companies.
In February 2015, the SAT issued the Bulletin on Issues of Enterprise Income Tax on Indirect Transfers of Assets by
Non-PRC
Resident Enterprises, or Bulletin 7. Pursuant to Bulletin 7, an “indirect transfer” of PRC assets, including a transfer of equity interests in an unlisted
non-PRC
holding company of a PRC resident enterprise, by
non-PRC
resident enterprises may be
re-characterized
and treated as a direct transfer of the underlying PRC assets, if such arrangement does not have a reasonable commercial purpose and was established for the purpose of avoiding payment of PRC enterprise income tax. As a result, gains derived from such indirect transfer may be subject to PRC enterprise income tax, and the transferee or other person who is obligated to pay for the transfer is obligated to withhold the applicable taxes, currently at a rate of 10% for the transfer of equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise. Bulletin 7 does not apply to transactions of sale of shares by investors through a public stock exchange where such shares were acquired from a transaction through a public stock exchange.
According to Bulletin 7, where a
non-PRC
resident enterprise transfers its equity interests in a PRC resident enterprise to its related parties at a price lower than the fair market value, the competent tax authority has the power to make a reasonable adjustment to the taxable income of the transaction. On October 17, 2017, the SAT issued the Announcement of the State Administration of Taxation on Issues Concerning the Withholding of
Non-resident
Enterprise Income Tax at Source, or Bulletin 37, which came into effect and superseded Circular 698 on December 1, 2017. The Bulletin 37 further clarifies the practice and procedure of the withholding of nonresident enterprise income tax.
There is uncertainty as to the application of Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37. As a result, we and our
non-resident
investors may have the risk of being taxed under Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37 and may be required to spend valuable resources to comply with Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37 or to establish that we or our
non-resident
investors should not be taxed under Bulletin 7 and Bulletin 37, which may have a material adverse effect on our financial condition and results of operations or such
non-resident
investors’ investments in us.
If we fail to obtain and maintain the licenses and approvals required under the ambiguous regulatory environment for online education in China, our business, financial condition and results of operations may be materially and adversely affected.
 
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The online education industry in China is still in its nascent stage. The relevant laws and regulations are relatively new and still evolving, and their interpretation and enforcement involve significant uncertainty and ambiguity. As a result, in certain circumstances it may be difficult to determine whether a certain license requirement applies to us and what actions or omissions may be deemed to be in violation of applicable laws and regulations. For example, according to the Administrative Provisions on Internet Audio-Visual Program Service, the dissemination of “Audio-visual Programs” through internet is subject to the specific license. However, due to the ambiguity of the definition of “Audio-visual Programs,” there is uncertainty as to whether our online courses fall within the definition of “Audio-visual Programs” and whether we are required to obtain the License for Online Transmission of Audio-Visual Programs. On January 20, 2020, in the Q&A section of its website, the Beijing Radio and Television Bureau confirmed that online education is not subject to the License for Online Transmission of Audio-Visual Programs. In addition, pursuant to the Administrative Measures on the Production and Operation of Radio and Television Programs, the production of “Radio and Television Programs” requires the Permit for Production and Operation of Radio and TV Programs. Due to the ambiguity of the definition of “Radio and Television Programs,” there is uncertainty as to whether our online courses fall within such definition. On May 4, 2018, our PRC legal counsel, Tian Yuan Law Firm, consulted with the Beijing Press, Publication, Radio and Television Bureau, which confirmed that online education is not subject to the Permit for Production and Operation of Radio and TV Programs. As advised by our PRC legal counsel, there has been no substantial change in the laws and regulations on the Permit for Production and Operation of Radio and TV Programs since the consultation in 2018.
However, we cannot assure that the competent PRC government authorities will not subsequently take a contrary view, especially in light of new regulatory developments. If the government authorities determine that our online tutoring services fall within the scope of business operations that require the
above-mentioned
licenses or other licenses or permits, we may not be able to obtain such licenses or permits on reasonable terms or in a timely manner or at all, and failure to obtain such licenses or permits may subject us to fines, legal sanctions or an order to suspend our online tutoring services.
The audit report included in our annual reports is prepared by an auditor who is not inspected by the U.S. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, and as such, our investors are deprived of the benefits of such inspection.
Our auditor, the independent registered public accounting firm that issues the audit report included in our annual reports, as an auditor of companies that are traded publicly in the United States and a firm registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (United States), or the PCAOB, is subject to laws in the United States pursuant to which the PCAOB conducts regular inspections to assess its compliance with the applicable professional standards. Since our auditors are located in China, a jurisdiction where the PCAOB has been unable to conduct inspections without the approval of the Chinese authorities, our auditors are not currently inspected by the PCAOB.
In May 2013, the PCAOB announced that it had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding on Enforcement Cooperation with the CSRC, and the PRC Ministry of Finance, which establishes a cooperative framework between the parties for the production and exchange of audit documents relevant to investigations undertaken by the PCAOB, the CSRC or the PRC Ministry of Finance in the United States and the PRC, respectively. The PCAOB continues to be in discussions with the CSRC, and the PRC Ministry of Finance to permit joint inspections in the PRC of audit firms that are registered with PCAOB and audit Chinese companies that trade on U.S. exchanges.
On December 7, 2018, the SEC and the PCAOB issued a joint statement highlighting continued challenges faced by the U.S. regulators in their oversight of financial statement audits of
U.S.-listed
companies with significant operations in China. The joint statement reflects a heightened interest in an issue that has vexed U.S. regulators in recent years.
On April 21, 2020, the SEC and the PCAOB issued another joint statement reiterating the greater risk that disclosures will be insufficient in many emerging markets, including China, compared to those made by U.S. domestic companies. In discussing the specific issues related to the greater risk, the statement again highlights the PCAOB’s inability to inspect audit work paper and practices of accounting firms in China, with respect to their audit work of U.S. reporting companies. However, it remains unclear what further actions the SEC and PCAOB will take to address the problem.
On June 4, 2020, the U.S. President issued a memorandum ordering the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, or the PWG, to submit a report to the President within 60 days of the memorandum that includes recommendations for actions that can be taken by the executive branch and by the SEC or PCAOB on Chinese companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges and their audit firms, in an effort to protect investors in the U.S.
 
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On August 6, 2020, the PWG released a report recommending that the SEC take steps to implement the five recommendations outlined in the report. In particular, to address companies from jurisdictions that do not provide the PCAOB with sufficient access to fulfill its statutory mandate, or NCJs, the PWG recommends enhanced listing standards on U.S. stock exchanges. This would require, as a condition to initial and continued exchange listing, PCAOB access to work papers of the principal audit firm for the audit of the listed company. Companies unable to satisfy this standard as a result of governmental restrictions on access to audit work papers and practices in NCJs may satisfy this standard by providing a
co-audit
from an audit firm with comparable resources and experience where the PCAOB determines it has sufficient access to audit work papers and practices to conduct an appropriate inspection of the
co-audit
firm. The report permits the new listing standards to provide for a transition period until January 1, 2022 for listed companies, If we fail to meet the new listing standards before the deadline specified thereunder due to factors beyond our control, we could face possible
de-listing
from the NYSE, deregistration from the SEC and/or other risks, which may materially and adversely affect, or effectively terminate, our ADS trading in the United States.
This lack of the PCAOB inspections in China prevents the PCAOB from fully evaluating audits and quality control procedures of our independent registered public accounting firm. As a result, we and our investors are deprived of the benefits of such PCAOB inspections. The inability of the PCAOB to conduct inspections of auditors in China makes it more difficult to evaluate the effectiveness of our independent registered public accounting firm’s audit procedures or quality control procedures as compared to auditors outside of China that are subject to the PCAOB inspections, which could cause investors and potential investors in our stock to lose confidence in our reported financial information and the quality of our financial statements.
As part of a continued regulatory focus in the United States on access to audit and other information currently protected by national law, in particular China’s, in June 2019, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced bills in both houses of the U.S. Congress, which if passed, would require the SEC to maintain a list of issuers for which PCAOB is not able to inspect or investigate an auditor report issued by a foreign public accounting firm. The proposed Ensuring Quality Information and Transparency for Abroad-Based Listings on our Exchanges (EQUITABLE) Act prescribes increased disclosure requirements for these issuers and, beginning in 2025, the delisting from U.S. national securities exchanges of issuers included on the SEC’s list for three consecutive years. On May 20, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed S. 945, the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, or the “Kennedy Bill.” On July 21, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives approved its version of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2021, which contains provisions comparable to the Kennedy Bill. If either of these bills is enacted into law, it would amend the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to direct the SEC to prohibit securities of any registrant from being listed on any of the U.S. securities exchanges or traded
“over-the-counter”
if the auditor of the registrant’s financial statements is not subject to PCAOB inspection for three consecutive years after the law becomes effective. Enactment of this legislation or other efforts to increase U.S. regulatory access to audit information could cause investor uncertainty for affected issuers, including us, and the market price of the ADSs could be adversely affected, and we could be delisted if we are unable to cure the situation to meet the PCAOB inspection requirement in time. It is unclear if this proposed legislation would be enacted. Furthermore, there has been recent media reports on deliberations within the U.S. government regarding potentially limiting or restricting China-based companies from accessing U.S. capital markets. If any such deliberations were to materialize, the resulting legislation may have material and adverse impact on the stock performance of China-based issuers listed in the United States, including ours.
Proceedings instituted by the SEC against
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, could result in financial statements being determined to not be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.
Starting in 2011 the
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, were affected by a conflict between U.S. and Chinese law. Specifically, for certain U.S.-listed companies operating and audited in mainland China, the SEC and the PCAOB sought to obtain from the Chinese firms access to their audit work papers and related documents. The firms were, however, advised and directed that under Chinese law, they could not respond directly to the U.S. regulators on those requests, and that requests by foreign regulators for access to such papers in China had to be channeled through the CSRC.
 
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In late 2012, this impasse led the SEC to commence administrative proceedings under Rule 102(e) of its Rules of Practice and also under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 against the Chinese accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm. A first instance trial of the proceedings in July 2013 in the SEC’s internal administrative court resulted in an adverse judgment against the firms. The administrative law judge proposed penalties on the firms including a temporary suspension of their right to practice before the SEC, although that proposed penalty did not take effect pending review by the Commissioners of the SEC. On February 6, 2015, before a review by the Commissioner had taken place, the firms reached a settlement with the SEC. Under the settlement, the SEC accepts that future requests by the SEC for the production of documents will normally be made to the CSRC. The firms will receive matching Section 106 requests, and are required to abide by a detailed set of procedures with respect to such requests, which in substance require them to facilitate production via the CSRC. If they fail to meet specified criteria, the SEC retains authority to impose a variety of additional remedial measures on the firms depending on the nature of the failure. Remedies for any future noncompliance could include, as appropriate, an automatic
six-month
bar on a single firm’s performance of certain audit work, commencement of a new proceeding against a firm, or, in extreme cases, the resumption of the current proceeding against all four firms. If additional remedial measures are imposed on the
PRC-based
“big four” accounting firms, including our independent registered public accounting firm, in administrative proceedings brought by the SEC alleging the firms’ failure to meet specific criteria set by the SEC with respect to requests for the production of documents, we could be unable to timely file future financial statements in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act.
In the event that the SEC restarts the administrative proceedings, depending upon the final outcome, listed companies in the United States with major PRC operations may find it difficult or impossible to retain auditors in respect of their operations in the PRC, which could result in financial statements being determined not to be in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act, including possible delisting. Moreover, any negative news about any such future proceedings against these audit firms may cause investor uncertainty regarding China-based, U.S.-listed companies and the market price of our ADSs may be adversely affected.
If our independent registered public accounting firm was denied, even temporarily, the ability to practice before the SEC and we were unable to timely find another registered public accounting firm to audit and issue an opinion on our financial statements, our financial statements could be determined to be not in compliance with the requirements of the Exchange Act. Such a determination could ultimately lead to the delisting of the ADSs or deregistration from the SEC, or both, which would substantially reduce or effectively terminate the trading of the ADSs in the United States.
It may be difficult for overseas regulators to conduct investigations or collect evidence within China.
Shareholder claims or regulatory investigation that are common in the United States generally are difficult to pursue as a matter of law or practicality in China. For example, in China, there are significant legal and other obstacles to providing information needed for regulatory investigations or litigation initiated outside China. Although the authorities in China may establish a regulatory cooperation mechanism with the securities regulatory authorities of another country or region to implement
cross-border
supervision and administration, such cooperation with the securities regulatory authorities in the Unities States may not be efficient in the absence of mutual and practical cooperation mechanism. Furthermore, according to Article 177 of the PRC Securities Law, or Article 177, which became effective in March 2020, no overseas securities regulator is allowed to directly conduct investigation or evidence collection activities within the territory of the PRC. While detailed interpretation of or implementation rules under Article 177 have yet to be promulgated, the inability for an overseas securities regulator to directly conduct investigations or evidence collection activities within China may further increase difficulties faced by our shareholders in protecting their interests.
Risks Related to Our ADSs
The market price of our ADSs has been and is likely to continue to be volatile, which could result in substantial losses to holders of our ADSs.
The market price of our ADSs has been and is and is likely to continue to be volatile and could fluctuate widely in response to a variety of factors, many of which are beyond our control. The market price of our ADSs is likely to be highly volatile and subject to wide fluctuations in response to factors such as:
 
   
actual or anticipated fluctuations in our operating results,
 
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changes in financial estimates by securities research analysts,
 
   
changes in the economic performance or market valuation of other education companies,
 
   
announcements by us or our competitors of material acquisitions, strategic partnerships, joint ventures or capital commitments,
 
   
addition or departure of our executive officers,
 
   
detrimental negative publicity about us, our competitors or our industry,
 
   
regulatory investigation or other governmental proceedings against us,
 
   
substantial sales or perception of sales of our ADSs in the public market, and
 
   
general economic, regulatory or political conditions in China and the U.S.
In addition, the performance and fluctuation of the market prices of other companies with business operations located mainly in China that have listed their securities in the United States may affect the volatility in the prices of and trading volumes of our ADSs. The securities of some of these companies have experienced significant volatility since their initial public offerings, including, in some cases, substantial price declines in trading prices. The trading performance of other Chinese companies’ securities after their offerings, including private education companies, may affect the attitudes of investors toward Chinese companies listed in the United States, which consequently may impact the trading performance of our ADSs, regardless of our actual operating performance. In addition, any negative news or perceptions about inadequate corporate governance practices or fraudulent accounting, corporate structure or matters of other Chinese companies may also negatively affect the attitudes of investors towards Chinese companies in general, including us, regardless of whether we have conducted any inappropriate activities. Furthermore, securities markets may from time to time experience significant price and volume fluctuations that are not related to our operating performance, such as the large decline in share prices in the United States, China, and other jurisdictions in late 2008, early 2009, the second half of 2011,
mid-2015,
early 2016 and early 2020, which may have a material and adverse effect on the trading price of our ADSs.
If securities or industry analysts publish negative reports about our business, the price and trading volume of our ADSs securities could decline.
The trading market for our ADSs will be influenced by the research reports and ratings that securities or industry analysts or ratings agencies publish about us, our business and the private education market in China in general. We do not have any control over these analysts or agencies. If one or more of the analysts or agencies who cover us downgrades us or our securities, the price of our ADSs may decline. If one or more of these analysts cease coverage of our company or fail to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause the price of our ADSs or trading volume to decline.
Holders of our ADSs may have fewer rights than holders of our common shares and must act through the depositary to exercise those rights.
Holders of ADSs do not have the same rights of our shareholders and may only exercise the voting rights with respect to the underlying common shares represented by the ADSs in accordance with the provisions of the deposit agreement. Under our memorandum and articles of association, the minimum notice period required to convene a general meeting is seven days. When a general meeting is convened, holders of ADSs may not receive sufficient notice of a shareholders’ meeting to permit withdrawal of the underlying common shares represented by their ADSs to allow them to cast their votes with respect to any specific matter. In addition, the depositary and its agents may not be able to send voting instructions to holders of ADSs or carry out your voting instructions in a timely manner. We will make all reasonable efforts to cause the depositary to extend voting rights to holders of ADSs in a timely manner, but we cannot assure that holders of ADSs will receive the voting materials in time to ensure that they can instruct the depositary to vote their ADSs. Furthermore, the depositary and its agents will not be responsible for any failure to carry out any instructions to vote, for the manner in which any vote is cast or for the effect of any such vote. As a result, holders of ADSs may not be able to exercise their right to vote and may lack recourse if the common shares underlying their ADSs are not voted as they requested. In addition, holders of ADSs will not be able to call a shareholders’ meeting.
 
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The right of our ADS holders to participate in any future rights offerings may be limited, which may cause dilution to holdings of our ADS holders.
We may from time to time distribute rights to our shareholders, including rights to acquire our securities. However, we cannot make rights available to holders of our ADSs in the United States unless we register both the rights and the securities to which the rights relate under the Securities Act or an exemption from the registration requirements is available. Under the deposit agreement for the ADSs, the depositary will not offer those rights to ADS holders unless both the rights and the underlying securities to be distributed to ADS holders are either registered under the Securities Act, or exempt from registration under the Securities Act with respect to all holders of ADSs. We are under no obligation to file a registration statement with respect to any such rights or underlying securities or to endeavor to cause such a registration statement to be declared effective. In addition, we may not be able to take advantage of any exemptions from registration under the Securities Act. Accordingly, holders of our ADSs may be unable to participate in our rights offerings and may experience dilution in their holdings as a result.
Holders of our ADSs may be subject to limitations on transfer of their ADSs.
Our ADSs are transferable on the books of the depositary. However, the depositary may close its transfer books at any time or from time to time when it deems expedient in connection with the performance of its duties. In addition, the depositary may refuse to deliver, transfer or register transfers of ADSs generally when our books or the books of the depositary are closed, or at any time if we or the depositary deems it advisable to do so because of any requirement of law or of any government or governmental body, or under any provision of the deposit agreement, or for any other reason.
Certain judgments obtained against us by our shareholders may not be enforceable.
We are incorporated in the Cayman Islands and conduct substantially all of our operations in China. Substantially all of our assets are located in China. All of our executive officers reside in China and some or all of the assets of those persons are located within China. As a result, it may be difficult for shareholders to effect service of process within the United States in the event that they believe that their rights have been infringed under the U.S. federal securities laws or otherwise. Even if shareholders are successful in bringing an action of this kind, the laws of the Cayman Islands and of the PRC may render shareholders unable to enforce a judgment against our assets or the assets of our directors and officers. There is no statutory enforcement in the Cayman Islands of judgments obtained in the federal or state courts of the United States (and the Cayman Islands are not a party to any treaties for the reciprocal enforcement or recognition of such judgments).
The recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments are provided for under the PRC Civil Procedures Law. PRC courts may recognize and enforce foreign judgments in accordance with the requirements of the PRC Civil Procedures Law based either on treaties between China and the country where the judgment is made or on principles of reciprocity between jurisdictions. China does not have any treaties or other forms of reciprocity with the United States that provide for the reciprocal recognition and enforcement of foreign judgments. In addition, according to the PRC Civil Procedures Law, the PRC courts will not enforce a foreign judgment against us or our director and officers if they decide that the judgment violates the basic principles of PRC laws or national sovereignty, security or public interest. As a result, it is uncertain whether and on what basis a PRC court would enforce a judgment rendered by a court in the United States.
Since we are a Cayman Islands exempted company, the rights of our shareholders may be more limited than those of shareholders of a company organized in the United States.
Our corporate affairs are governed by our memorandum and articles of association and by the Companies Law (2020 Revision) and common law of the Cayman Islands. The rights of shareholders to take legal action against our directors and us, actions by minority shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors to us under Cayman Islands law are to a large extent governed by the common law of the Cayman Islands. The common law of the Cayman Islands is derived in part from comparatively limited judicial precedents in the Cayman Islands as well as from English common law, which has persuasive, but not binding, authority on a court in the Cayman Islands.
 
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The rights of our shareholders and the fiduciary responsibilities of our directors under Cayman Islands law are not as clearly established as they would be under statutes or judicial precedents in the United States. In particular, the Cayman Islands has a less developed body of securities laws as compared to the United States, and provides significantly less protection to investors. In addition, Cayman Islands companies may not have standing to initiate a shareholder derivative action before the federal courts of the United States.
As a result of all of the above, holders and beneficial owners of our ADSs may have more difficulties in protecting their interests through actions against our management, directors or major shareholders than would shareholders of a corporation incorporated in a jurisdiction in the United States.
Our articles of association contain anti-takeover provisions that could have a material adverse effect on the rights of holders of our common shares and ADSs.
Our articles of association contain provisions that limit the ability of others to acquire control of our company or cause us to engage in
change-of-control
transactions. These provisions could have the effect of depriving our shareholders of an opportunity to sell their shares at a premium over prevailing market prices by discouraging third parties from seeking to obtain control of our company in a tender offer or similar transaction. For example, our board of directors has the authority, without further action by our shareholders, to issue preferred shares in one or more series and to fix their designations, powers, preferences, privileges, and relative participating, optional or special rights and the qualifications, limitations or restrictions, including dividend rights, conversion rights, voting rights, terms of redemption and liquidation preferences, any or all of which may be greater than the rights associated with our common shares, in the form of ADS or otherwise. Preferred shares could be issued quickly with terms calculated to delay or prevent a change in control of our company or make removal of management more difficult. If our board of directors decides to issue preferred shares, the price of our ADSs may fall and the voting and other rights of the holders of our common shares and ADSs may be materially and adversely affected.
We may be classified as a “passive foreign investment company,” which could result in adverse U.S. federal income tax consequences to U.S. holders of our ADSs or common shares.
A
non-U.S.
corporation, such as our company, will be a “passive foreign investment company,” or PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes for any taxable year if either, (1) 75% or more of its gross income for such year consists of certain types of “passive” income or (2) 50% or more of the value of its assets (generally determined on the basis of a quarterly average) during such year is attributable to assets that produce passive income or are held for the production of passive income.
Although the law in this regard is unclear, we treat our VIEs (including their subsidiaries) as being owned by us for U.S. federal income tax purposes, not only because we control their management decisions but also because we are entitled to substantially all of the economic benefits associated with these entities, and, as a result, we consolidate these entities’ operating results in our combined financial statements. If it were determined, however, that we are not the owner of our VIEs (including their subsidiaries) for U.S. federal income tax purposes, we may be or become a PFIC. Assuming that we are the owner of our VIEs (including their subsidiaries) for U.S. federal income tax purposes, and based upon an analysis of our company’s income and assets in respect of the 2020 taxable year, we do not believe that we were a PFIC, for U.S. federal income tax purposes, for the taxable year ended May 31, 2020. Because the value of our assets for purposes of the PFIC test will generally be determined by reference to the market value of our ADSs, the determination of whether we will be or become a PFIC will depend in large part upon the market value of our ADSs, of which we cannot control. Accordingly, fluctuations in the market price of our ADSs may cause us to become a PFIC for the current taxable year or future taxable years. The determination of whether we will be or become a PFIC will also depend, in part, upon the nature of our income and assets over time, which are subject to change from year to year. Because rules and PFIC status is a fact-intensive determination made on an annual basis, no assurance can be given that we are not or will not become classified as a PFIC.
If we were to be classified as a PFIC in any taxable year, a U.S. Holder (as defined in “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—U.S. Federal Income Taxation”) may incur significantly increased U.S. income tax on gain recognized on the sale or other disposition of the ADSs or common shares and on the receipt of distributions on the ADSs or common shares to the extent such gain or distribution is treated as an “excess distribution” under U.S. federal income tax rules. Further, if we are classified as a PFIC for any year during which a U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or common shares, we will generally continue to be treated as a PFIC for all succeeding years during which such U.S. Holder holds our ADSs or common shares. U.S. Holders of our ADSs or common shares are urged to consult their tax advisors concerning the United States federal income tax consequences if we are or become classified as a PFIC. See “Item 10. Additional Information—E. Taxation—Passive Foreign Investment Company Rules.”
 
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ITEM 4.
INFORMATION ON THE COMPANY
 
A.
History and Development of the Company
Our first school was established by Mr. Michael Minhong Yu, our executive chairman, in Beijing, China in 1993 to offer TOEFL test preparation courses to college students. We established New Oriental China in 2001 as a domestic holding company to act as the sponsor of our schools and hold some operating subsidiaries. Since our inception, we have grown rapidly and transformed ourselves from primarily a language training and test preparation company to the largest provider of private educational services in China offering a wide range of educational programs, services and products to a varied student population throughout China.
In order to facilitate foreign investment in our company, we established our offshore holding company, New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc., in the British Virgin Islands in August 2004. On January 23, 2006, our shareholders approved the change of our offshore holding company’s corporate domicile to the Cayman Islands, and upon completion of registration by way of continuation with the Registrar of Companies of the Cayman Islands on March 16, 2006 we are now a Cayman Islands company. Since December 2007, we have established three wholly-owned subsidiaries in Hong Kong, which now directly own our wholly-owned subsidiaries in China.
We and certain selling shareholders of our company completed an initial public offering and listed our ADSs on the NYSE under the symbol “EDU” in September 2006. In February 2007, we and certain selling shareholders of our company completed an additional public offering of ADSs. On August 18, 2011, we effected a change in the ratio of our ADSs to common shares from one ADS representing four common shares to one ADS representing one common share.
Beijing Xuncheng, a then majority-owned subsidiary of New Oriental China, which operates our several online education platforms together with its subsidiaries, one of which is koolearn.com, listed its shares on the National Equities Exchange and Quotations in China for trading from March 21, 2017 to February 14, 2018 whereby it completed a voluntary delisting from the National Equities Exchange and Quotations. Subsequent to its delisting, Beijing Xuncheng went through a series of restructuring transactions and became a variable interest entity controlled by Koolearn Technology Holding Limited, or Koolearn, a majority-owned subsidiary of our offshore holding company. On March 28, 2019, Koolearn completed its initial public offering and the listing of its shares on the Main Board of The Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited.
In October 2018, we announced a share repurchase program, pursuant to which we were authorized to repurchase our own common shares or ADSs with an aggregate value of up to US$200 million during the period from October 29, 2018 through May 31, 2019. Under such share repurchase program, we repurchased an aggregate of 952,000 ADSs for US$56.0 million on the open market at a weighted average purchase price of US$58.78 per ADS.
In July 2020, we completed an offering of US$300 million aggregate principal amount of 2.125% notes due 2025, or the 2025 Notes. We received net proceeds from the offering of the 2025 Notes of approximately US$297.1 million, after deducting joint bookrunners’ commissions and estimated offering expenses.
Our principal executive offices are located at No. 6 Hai Dian Zhong Street, Haidian District, Beijing 100080, People’s Republic of China. Our telephone number at this address is +(8610) 6090-8000. Our registered office in the Cayman Islands is located at Conyers Trust Company (Cayman) Limited, Cricket Square, Hutchins Drive, P.O. Box 2681, Grand Cayman
KY1-1111,
Cayman Islands. We have branch offices in 91 cities in China.
The SEC maintains an internet site that contains reports, proxy and information statements, and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC at www.sec.gov. You can also find information on our website at http://investor.neworiental.org. The information contained on our website is not a part of this annual report.
 
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B.
Business Overview
Our Network
We deliver our comprehensive educational programs, services and products to students across China through our nationwide physical network of schools, learning centers and bookstores, as well as our pure-play online learning platforms. As of May 31, 2020, we had a physical network of 104 schools and 1,361 learning centers in 91 cities and approximately 41,400 teachers. We deliver online courses through our online learning platforms, including Koolearn.com, our comprehensive online education services platform; DFUB, our live interactive
K-12
tutoring service tailored to students in lower-tier cities; and Donut, our online live English classroom courses for preschoolers. Powered by our OMO system, we have combined our offline network with online technologies and adopted different business models tailored to students in different locations to facilitate our operational efficiency. For example, for students in tier 1 cities, we primarily deliver courses in offline classroom settings, supported with interactive online learning components. For students in lower tier cities, we have adopted a dual-teacher model, where we broadcast courses delivered by well-known teachers from
top-tier
cities through our OMO system and have local assistant lecturers monitor and provide in-person guidance and interactions with students onsite. The dual-teacher model provides students in lower tier cities with access to top quality teachers in other cities with greater flexibility in terms of course schedule.
We distribute and sell books and other educational materials developed or licensed by us through our distribution channels, which consist of bookstores operated by us and third-party distributors. As of May 31, 2020, we had 12 bookstores operated by us, and 131 third-party distributors, who provided us with access to a nationwide network of online and offline bookstores. In addition, we have an extensive network of students and alumni, who we believe have been essential in helping us promote our brand and our programs, services and products by
word-of-mouth
referrals.
Almost all of our schools, learning centers and self-operated bookstores are operated under our “New Oriental” brand. Our schools in major cities consist of classrooms and administrative facilities with full student and administrative services, while our schools in satellite cities and our learning centers consist primarily of classroom facilities and limited course registration and management capabilities. We select new locations for our schools and learning centers based on various factors, including demographics, the number of schools or colleges in, and the economic condition of, the particular region. We have opened bookstores in some of our established schools to sell educational materials relating to our courses and also sell self-help,
know-how,
inspirational and other books.
The following table sets forth information about the locations of our schools, learning centers and bookstores as of May 31, 2020.
 
City
  
Number of Schools
    
Number of learning centers
    
Number of bookstores
 
Beijing
     6        111        1  
Shanghai
     1        69        1  
Guangzhou
     1        49        1  
Wuhan
     1        58        1  
Yangzhou
     3        2        —    
Tianjin
     1        41        —    
Xi’an
     1        48        1  
Nanjing
     3        51        —    
Shenyang
     1        20        —    
Chongqing
     1        31        1  
Chengdu
     1        44        —    
Shenzhen
     1        21        —    
Xiangyang
     1        15        —    
Taiyuan
     1        35        —    
Haerbin
     1        16        1  
Changsha
     1        41        —    
Jinan
     1        30        —    
Zhengzhou
     1        41        —    
 
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City
  
Number of Schools
    
Number of learning centers
    
Number of bookstores
 
Hangzhou
     1        79        —    
Changchun
     3        21        1  
Shijiazhuang
     1        20        —    
Suzhou
     2        60        1  
Zhuzhou
     1        3        —    
Anshan
     1        0        —    
Hefei
     1        63        —    
Kunming
     1        12        —    
Wuxi
     1        21        —    
Foshan
     1        10        —    
Fuzhou
     1        30        —    
Yichang
     1        5        —    
Nanchang
     1        45        —    
Jingzhou
     1        3        —    
Dalian
     1        6        1  
Lanzhou
     1        12        1  
Huangshi
     1        3        —    
Ningbo
     1        11        —    
Xiamen
     1        27        —    
Qingdao
     2        30        —    
Nanning
     1        20        —    
Xuzhou
     1        6        —    
Xiangtan
     1        3        —    
Zhenjiang
     1        4        —    
Luoyang
     1        12        —    
Nantong
     1        6        —    
Jilin
     1        10        —    
Guiyang
     1        7        —    
Hohhot
     1        10        1  
Tangshan
     1        12        —    
Urumqi
     1        8        —    
Shiyan
     1        4        —    
Quanzhou
     1        4        —    
Wenzhou
     1        11        —    
Weifang
     1        5        —